Stewards of the Heartlands

John Gevers  •  Fort Wayne, Indiana

About photographer John Gevers • Fort Wayne, Indiana, U.S.A.

John’s fondest boyhood memories are of weekend visits to his cousins’ farm in northern Indiana not far from his home in Fort Wayne. He had his first crush on Kodachrome film. And he came of age in New Zealand, taking a hottie* to bed with him after long days working on farms.

(*hot water bottle)

John began writing stories and making photographs as a boy, worked his way up to editor of the high school newspaper, and went on to hone his skills for the professional world at the Ernie Pyle School of Journalism at Indiana University where he double-majored, adding psychology to his degree. While there, he learned the photojournalistic art of capturing the moment with emotion and beauty from the preeminent photographer, John Ahlhauser, and the art of accurate, story-enhancing editing from The Saturday Review’s Richard Tobin.

As a university junior at the age of 21, he was the youngest American chosen to serve as an Ambassador to New Zealand through Rotary International. In that role, he took New Zealand Studies courses at the University of Otago in Dunedin and travelled the country speaking to any group or individual who would listen. As an Ambassador of Goodwill from the U.S.A., he was sent on a mission Down Under to help counter anti-American attitudes caused by the 1986 suspension of the ANZUS Alliance over nuclear issues. While in New Zealand, his early memories and love of farm life were rekindled as he worked on Kiwi family farms whenever he could and gained experience on sheep, goat, dairy, and deer farms.

It was during this part of John’s life in New Zealand that his formal photography and journalism training gelled into a lifelong passion for making images that capture the decisive moment and for recording stories of ordinary, often marginalized or unsung, people. In more recent years, he has learned advanced photography skills with the celebrated photographer brothers, Peter and David Turnley, who also originally hail from Fort Wayne.

After a career in marketing and multimedia production in both not-for-profit and corporate environments, he founded New Media Brew and John Gevers Photography in 2002 and has received numerous awards for excellence in image capture, storytelling, and editing. One of the award winners is Facing HIV/AIDS in the Heartland, a photographic and narrative exhibition-turned video production that shares the lives of twenty individuals of diverse backgrounds who live with the virus—and its stigma—in the American Heartland. Another of John’s bodies of work, Yearning to Breathe Free, focuses on the lives of refugees who have resettled from far distant countries to America’s Heartland.

As a photographer, John is known both for capturing the splendor of the world and for revealing a person’s essence and spirit in portrait photography. “To breathe in and out with my subjects, to get to know their motivations, and then to capture a moment that reflects their true selves defines me as both humanist and spiritualist,” John says. “It’s the light within each of us that I seek to reveal in photography. Finding and recording that spark is the most intimate acquaintance with light a photographer can know.”

His fine art giclée and aluminum sublimation prints are held in private collections, found on walls in organizations that resonate with his view of the world, and are available at the Paradigm Gallery in the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, along with his art book of images published in 2015. His work has been exhibited throughout Indiana and beyond. John is twice the recipient of the Individual Artist Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Indiana Arts Commission, including the 2017 year which is making possible his new exhibition entitled, focus, a retrospective of his 30 years of image making and storytelling.

John’s approach to photography is inspired primarily by the work of Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier Bresson, and Peter and David Turnley. He is rooted in the Heartland of America but travels wherever stories and clients call. Notable clients include W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School and the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, HBO Documentary Films, Enterprise Corporation of the Delta, and Mixed Greens Children’s Vegetable Project. More at www.johngevers.com.

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