MUENCH FAMILY: Three Generations of Photographers in Monument Valley

The Double Arch, Arches Nat'l Park, Utah.
Photograph (c) Josef Muench/All rights reserved

(Click Image to Enlarge)

Wilson Arch, Moab, Utah. Photograph (c) David Muench/All rights reserved

Stevens Arch, Utah. Photograph (c) Marc Muench/All rights reserved

JOSEF MUENCH was born in Bavaria in 1904. At the age of 11 he received his first camera and began a lifelong interest in capturing nature on film. He arrived in the United States with his brother in 1928 and eventually settled in California.

In the 1930's, Monument Valley remained virtually unknown (except to the Navajo whose name for it is Tsé Bii' Ndzisgaii Valley of the Rocks) until Muench took some of the most memorable photographs of it beginning in 1936 and returning over 350 times to photograph there. In 1938, he met with the editor of Arizona Highways Magazine who ran Josef's photograph of the Rainbow Bridge National Monument. Not long after, Muench's name became synonymous with Arizona Highways Magazine where he worked for more than 50 years, using mostly his 4x5 camera.

Later he also photographed in Africa, Alaska, Asia, Canada, Europe, Hawaii, the Rocky Mountains and beyond. The unmanned Voyager Expeditions, launched in 1977, included his photo of a snow-covered Sequoia redwood taken in Kings Canyon National Park. Josef Muench died in 1998 at the age of 94, but his legacy remains.
+ + +

DAVID MUENCH, an innovator in landscape photography, has said that nature is his greatest teacher. Son of the founding father of color landscape photography, Josef Muench, and father of Marc Muench, David contributes to the world of photography by illustrating the beauty of land. Best known for his unique view of the American western landscape, he has presented us with the clear lakes and wild rivers of this country for more than 50 years. Muench's formal schooling included the Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York, The University of California at Santa Barbara and the Art Center School of Design, Los Angeles, California.

No permits or plane tickets were contemplated when Muench first traversed the Western landscape with his adventurous parents. His father photographed, while his mother, Joyce, wrote about their experiences. The family would travel from their home in Santa Barbara to the eastern Sierras, still one of David’s favorite places, or to the desert Southwest, taking airboats up the Colorado River or animal pack trips deep into the canyon lands.

William Conway, the former president of the Wildlife Conservation Society, praised David as one of the most “prolific and sensitive recorders of a rapidly vanishing natural world” while setting the standard and raising the bar for color landscape photography. David was commissioned to provide photographs for 33 large murals on the Lewis and Clark Expedition that hangs in the Jefferson Expansion Memorial in St. Louis. He is widely published in more than 60 books and publications.

+ + +

MARC MUENCH, as a third-generation photographer, could easily have fallen under the shadow of his talented father and grandfather. Instead, he's emerged as an acclaimed landscape and sports photographer in his own right since finishing his studies at Pasadena Art Center College of Design.

Muench estimates that his family has archived 250,000 individual 4x5 transparencies over the years, which is the primary statistic that drove the family studio to a digital workflow. Muench explains that their first foray into digital photography was to hire an employee to run the drum scanner they had purchased and digitize their work. Since that time their family photography studio has fully embraced digital work from capture to print.

Working alongside his parents at the studio, Marc has collaborated on and published several landscape photography books with his father, and his photography has appeared on the covers of Time, National Geographic, Traveler, Arizona Highways, Ski, Skiing, Outside, and Sierra Magazine. He was designated as a Kodak Photo Icon and recently published his 9th book. Marc leads 5 day intensive Photography Workshops, exploring areas like Patagonia, Scotland and Utah, among other remote and beautiful landscapes.

Marc Muench
"Wild Utah" Photography Workshop October 1-5, 2009
Muench Stock Photography
Monument Valley in Vanity Fair Magazine


Sergio López said...

I love this series of three photographs. Each has something special. A wonderful place!.

Leslie said...

Landed here since I noticed you are a new follower of my humble little blog. Glad to see the Muench family included in this list of masters. I have enjoyed their work my entire life. I grew up in Santa Barbara and the Eastern Sierras, so they've always felt like extended family.

Albany NY Family Photographer said...

Each of these photographs is amazing. I love their use of light. What a treat it would be to be part of this lineage of photographers.

Best Photography Portfolios said...

These photos are amazing. I love the composition, excellent work.
Just wanted to pass on my congrats for putting together a great group of photographers. These shots are all wonderful. It's hard to pick a favorite from this group.

Thanks for sharing!