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Can an International Award-Winning Vietnam-era Combat

Posted by Dr Sylvester Caraway Jr. on February 14, 2011 at 5:07 PM

Can an International Award-Winning Vietnam-era Combat

Photojournalist Produce Fine Art Photography? Yes


Sam Bass is a former Navy Chief and international award-winning combat photojournalist. His photo works have been described as stunning and provocative, images that challenge the viewer with one stimulating visual experience after another.


Sam received his grounding in classic commercial photography at the Art Center School of Design in Los Angeles, California; and honed his creative photographic and news writing skills at Syracuse University in New York where he graduated from a highly intensive photojournalism program designed specifically for the Navy.


“After Syracuse I was assigned to South Vietnam and operated throughout Vietnam and Southeast Asia as a Navy combat photojournalist over a three-year period from 1967-1970,” Sam said. “During this period, I was also briefly assigned to the United Nations Command in South Korea to document North Korean violations against the armistice.”


In 1972, Sam was selected Photographer of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association, the University of Missouri School of Journalism and the U.S. Defense Department based primarily on his Vietnam photo works.


“This internationally prestigious award was presented annually at the University of Missouri following a world-wide competition of photojournalists and news photographers,” said Sam. “I was privileged to share Photographer of the Year honors with a National Geographic photographer that year.”


A truly innovative photojournalist, Sam has always treated his photography as an art.

During his combat tours in Vietnam, Sam’s photo works also received the respect of his peers. One such colleague was Horst Fass, an AP photographer and Pulitzer Prize laureate.

“I am impressed with Sam’s artistic photographic eye and his sensitivity,” said Fass. “Few combat photographers actually contribute to the advancement of photography. His photographs are definitely a contribution and have deepened my understanding of the Navy and it’s operations in Vietnam.”


Over the years, Sam’s images have been widely recognized and published, particularly his Vietnam-era images. But in addition to his ability and experience as a photojournalist, Sam has developed broad experience in all areas of commercial and fine art photography as well. He is a master small format photographer, and although skilled with PhotoShop, he is a master of the small format black and white darkroom as well.


“After leaving the Navy in 1974,” Sam said, “I spent many years as a freelance photojournalist producing images for all marketing communications applications for a variety of regional and national clients.”


Expanding beyond his photo works, Sam has also designed and conducted a series of photojournalism-based creative communications workshops and seminars to share his unique style and technique with amateur and professional photographers, as well as non-creative professionals.


“Although I love color, my real passion is black and white,” said Sam. “The best photographers strive to be Masters of Light, Shadow, Composition and Time. We attempt to balance these elements to create the most powerful, thought-provoking color and black and white imagery, remembering always we are but stewards of an instant in time.”


Sam and his wife Cheryl moved to Kingsport, Tennessee from Kentucky in June, 2009. Cheryl was born in Kingsport while Sam is a California transplant. Sam splits his time between cataloguing and digitizing his considerable photo works library while adding new, exciting images.


Sam Bass

1657 East Stone Drive, Suite 127 • Kingsport, Tennessee 37660

423.276.1338 •[email protected]


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