Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Northup SteveSteve Northup

Honored May, 2019

Steve Northup

Steve Northup is a New Mexico original.  Raised in Santa Fe, he grew up knowing the city’s iconic characters and lived its history. As a kid he was a “gloom” for Will Shuster’s Zozobra, and as a teen ager he worked on sets at the Santa Fe Opera.  Steve’s dad was a Santa Fe county agent who worked with orchard farmers, ranchers, even gardeners in the area to preserve the land.  Accompanying his dad on these visits Steve learned every dirt road in Santa Fe county.

Steve is a world-renowned (legendary) news photojournalist. He received the Nieman Fellowship award for journalism from Harvard University.(most prestigious fellowship program for journalists) In 1962 he joined the UPI and went to the Vietnam as a photographer.  He covered the White House for the Washington Post during the Nixon Watergate era and was a top photographer for Time Magazine. His photographs in Time Magazine of the American Indian Movement’s occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs building in Washington won first prize in the White House News Photographer  contest in 1972 for the best black and white picture story.
His sensitive photographs throughout the world told the truth of events that may have otherwise been overlooked.

His career began as a fledgling photographer at the New Mexican when Tony Hillerman was his boss. He later worked at the Reporter where he photographed everyday life—from politicians to Boy Scouts helping little old ladies get across busy streets. Start up photographers he mentored in the newspaper business said he raised the bar on compassionate photojournalism: he taught them to “be human first, a photographer second.”

Steve continues to give back.  He returned to Vietnam to teach  young Vietnamese photojournalists,(He has taught at the Santa Fe Photographic workshops.) He spends much of his time now photographing the indigenous cultures of the southwestern US and Guatemala. He teaches youngsters in his adopted second home in T or C.

Friends and colleagues describe Steve as gentle, self effacing… wonderful story teller, a kind man with a true sense of social responsibility and justice, embraces all life has to offer..has the soul of generosity..he is a source of enthusiasm and excitement and good humor.…In honoring Steve would also be honoring the character of this city and its most enduring values…He is as much a fixture of life in Santa Fe as the Sangre de Cristo mountains, only softer and cuddlier, like a great oversized teddy bear. “


Story by Nancy Dahl

Photo © 2019 by Genevieve Russell