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David Turnley

Professor, Stamps School of Art & Design
Associate Professor, School of Art & Design


Photograph of David Turnley


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

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 has been a dear friend of the Mandela family for the last thirty years and photographed Nelson Mandela and the South African struggle over these last three decades. 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.

David has Directed and Produced three feature-length Documentaries. The Dalai Lama: At Home and in Exile, for CNN; 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. Shenandoah, which is available to view on Netflix, was named by The NewFilmmakers Los Angeles as “Best Documentary Film” and David was named “Best Director” for the year 2013.

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. He received a B.A. in French Literature from The University of Michigan and has also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris.

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