Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan

David Turnley

David Turnley

Associate Professor

Associate Professor, School of Art & Design


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Curriculum Vitae

B.A., French Literature, The University of Michigan Residential College, 1977 Diplome, French Language Cours de la Civilization, Francaise Sorbonne, Paris 1975 Nieman Fellowship, Harvard, 1998 Honorary Doctorate, The New School for Social Research, 2000 Honorary Doctorate, The University of St. Francis, 2007


David Turnley is considered by many to be one of the best documentary photographers working today. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, two World Press Photos of the Year, and the Robert Capa Award for Courage, he has photographed the human condition in some 75 countries around the world.

Turnley was a Detroit Free Press staff photographer from 1980 to 1998. He was based in South Africa from 1985 to 1987, where he documented the country under Apartheid rule. He was based in Paris from 1987 to 1997, covering such events as the Persian Gulf War, revolutions in Eastern Europe, student uprisings in China and the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

He has published seven books of his photographic work including his last, Mandela: In Times of Struggle and Triumph, from his extensive time over the last twenty five years photographing the evolution of South Africa, and Nelson Mandela and his family.

Turnley earned a B.A. in French Literature from the University of Michigan, received an Honorary Doctoral degree from the New School of Social Research in 1997, and has also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. He studied under a Nieman Foundation Fellowship at Harvard in 1997-1998.

David has Directed and Produced three feature-length Documentaries. The Dalai Lama: At Home and in Exile, for CNN, nominated for an Emmy; La Tropical, called by Albert Maysles “the most sensual film ever shot in Cuba”; and his recently released, four year in the making, epic story of Shenandoah, located in the tough coal region of Pennsylvania.

David is an Associate Professor at his alma mater, the University of Michigan School of Art and Design, and Residential College. He studied filmmaking at Harvard on a Nieman Fellowship and has Honorary Doctorates from the New School of Social Research in New York, and from the University of St. Francis in Indiana.

The proud father of two children, David lives with his wife Rachel and family, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


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News Featuring David Turnley

David Turnley: Mandela Exhibit Opens in Detroit
David Turnley: Best New Filmmaker, Documentary of the Year
David Turnley Exhibits, Lectures in South Africa
David Turnley: Tiananmen Square
David Turnley: New York Times Interview
David Turnley: Photographs of Nelson Mandela and the South African Struggle
David Turnley: Apartheid, Segregation, and the Struggle for Social Justice
David Turnley Interviewed About the Life and Legacy of Nelson Mandela
David Turnley: Mandela! Struggle and Triumph
David Turnley Presents at SCAD
David Turnley Featured
David Turnley Film to Screen at Michigan Theater
David Turnley Featured in WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY
Event - Open Class on Censorship and Creative Expression
Shenandoah World Premiere New York
David Turnley Awarded Best Director at Atlanta International Documentary Film Festival
David Turnley Exhibit at the International Institute
David Turnley Screens Shenandoah at UC Davis
David Turnley’s South Africa Photographs Published in France
David Turnley: New York Times Review
David Turnley Interviewed
Event - Preview of David Turnley’s Film “Shenandoah”