Trace Aiken is a modest man. He has never been one to brag or show off his ability. In fact, I'll bet I have to argue to get him to use this Bio.
As he was learning about photography, I doubt he realized he knew as much as he did. Whenever you learn about anything you're passionate about, it becomes part of you little by little. You hardly notice your own ability in the quest to achieve something extraordinary. You notice the times you fail much more easily.
Trace gathered his phenomenal ability because photography was his passion. He never set out to become a walking encyclopedia of photography. He didn't set out to become an exemplary teacher. He did it because photography was the voice he had never had. He found his voice in High School, with a teacher who took the time to nurture instead of just instruct.
I was privileged to be one of Trace's students back in 2003. I volunteered to write an about page because I knew his modesty would keep him from telling you everything you'd want to know.
Trace won the National Kodak Medallion of Excellence in Photography by the time he was 17, he also won a monetary award for his Contribution to Art in the same year. By the time he was 18, he'd landed his first show at the preeminent Center for Photography at Woodstock. THE Woodstock. The one of Hippy and Hendrix fame. Yes… the very place that considered photography as a fine art many years before the rest of the artistic community gave it more than a pat on the head.
He photographed with black and white infrared film and did a series of landscapes for the show. Those of us who learned film understand this outstanding feat. Our minds are further boggled by the fact he was 18 when landing that first show.
But Trace wasn't content. His voice kept pushing him to learn more and create more. He went to the Art Institute in Ft. Lauderdale, but left when he realized he was teaching the instructors. After that, he pushed on to New York with a brief stop in Atlanta.
His client list is impressive. He has photographed Italian artist, opera and film director, and Set Designer Beni Montresor who was designing sets for the Metropolitan Opera. He worked on assignment photographing on a $4.5 million dollar yacht in Hilton Head, S.C. and traveling back to Atlanta to help shoot Sir Elton John's Atlanta residence.
Trace, however, wanted to learn more. He did an Artist in Residency at the Fellowship For Ecology And The Arts, located in the Gila Wilderness area, just outside of Silver City, New Mexico. He learned alternative processes in the darkroom, and even created his own. Large format photography and nuanced lighting became his forte as well. With the advent of Digital Photography, he learned that too.
Several years ago, a savvy department director in Atlanta offered Trace a teaching job and, remembering the teacher who nurtured, he took it, and started paying it forward.
He’s shown his work at The Defoor's Center in Atlanta along side of mythology's heavy weights, such as Alan Lee, Charles Vess, and Wendy Froud. (Alan Lee is the Academy Award winning illustrator behind “The Lord of the Rings” movies.) Trace was also vitally involved with co-curating, mounting, and designing the show and event “Ancient Spirit, Modern Voice” where this work was shown, celebrating the centenary of Joseph Campbell’s birthday. As a film maker, his first film "eye kissed the sea", captured and edited on an iPhone, was chosen by Celine Cousteau as one of five finalists which premiered in New York at the Ocean Inspiration Celebration for Jacques-Yves Cousteau's 100th birthday.
Today, you can look at Trace's work and unless you've been taught by someone who is a master, you might not realize what you're seeing. If you're more used to selfies and snapshots, you probably won't understand. But…if you've studied, and have a decent camera eye, you realize that the work you're seeing is extraordinary.
The amazing thing for you will be this:
Trace Aiken will not just teach you the technical side of a camera. He will teach you to find the camera's soul. (Hint- it's in you).
He will not teach you to photograph the things you see. He will teach you to see the things you photograph. He will use the term “being mindful”… a lot!
… and most extraordinary of all..
Trace will not teach you to shoot like him. He'll teach you to shoot like you.
Here are a few of his students:
Dorothy O'Conner (Atlanta, Georgia)
Keith Taylor (Atlanta, Georgia)
Erika Liden (Stockholm, Sweden)
Phillip Graybill (NYC)
…and then there's me.
I'm Nancy McGregor. (Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina)
Opera News Magazine
Los Angeles Magazine
Proctor & Gamble
Frankfurt, Gips & Balkind Design
Madison Ave. Muscle
Ogilvy & Mather
* Special Lighting Assistant
Sir Elton John’s Atlanta Residence
* Private Market Research Firm
Neutral Density Filters
Using a Light Meter
Shooting at Night
Phone-ography (Mobile Photography)
Large and Medium Format cameras
Film, alternative processes
Darkroom …and the list goes on