Professor Trayes donates photography to support SMC scholarships will benefit photojournalism and MJ students.

For roughly an hour each day, light seems to come alive at the bottoms of some of Arizona’s slot canyons. Revealed in stunning, yet often subtle colors, are unearthly details of these geographic wonders.

It’s a sight most will never experience—one of the reasons Journalism Professor Ed Trayes once climbed deep inside the canyons to capture such moments with his camera.

“The trick was to never get the sky in the photograph, because that would blow everything out,” Trayes says, subconsciously giving a lesson as he talks about his work. “What you try to do is capture the light as it squeezes through slits on the canyon’s surface and is picked up on the walls.”

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Photos by Ed Trayes

These images are just a few from an ever growing online collection of more than 11,000 that have come from Trayes’ cameras. They are now part of the Ed Trayes Photography Archives, which he has donated to the Temple University School of Media and Communication. A work still in progress, it is expected that eventually 50,000 of Trayes’ images dating back to the 1940s will be available for viewing, free educational use and possible purchase at Proceeds will provide scholarship funds for photojournalism and master of journalism students.

“I’m in my 46th year of teaching at Temple. It’s been a privilege to be here,” Trayes says. “I want to do something that might benefit future students.”

The unveiling of his archives also marks the first time many of his students (past and present) have seen any of their mentor’s work. While he ensures his classes are exposed to the work of great photographers, Trayes has kept his pictures out of the mix.

“You can show a lot of things by a lot of people, but the teacher should not show nor present a bias. You want every student to find his or her visual voice,” he says.

Photos from the vineyard
The collection includes images from Philadelphia, Jordan, Africa, the Virgin Islands and many places in between. But his favorite place to shoot is around his summer home on Martha’s Vineyard.

“It’s never the same and you never get tired of it, so you just keep going deeper and deeper. You would think that living in the same place and doing a lot of the same things every summer would be repetitive, but it isn’t,” he says. “It’s always new and it’s always different. I think that’s part of the challenge; to try to find the things that you haven’t shot, to continually try to do better with the ones you have.”

Trayes first discovered photography as a 10-year-old newspaper delivery boy in Bangor, Pa. The first of the 100 customers on his route was the owner of a photo studio.  “He insisted that I bring the paper to wherever he was and, generally, he was in the darkroom,” Trayes recalls. “I learned so much from him.”

His passion grew. Trayes shot for newspapers and for military publications during his time serving in the Marines. He started teaching photojournalism courses at Temple in 1967 “and before you knew it, we had a [photojournalism] sequence.”

The longtime professor has a camera with him constantly and is always taking photos—which speaks to the depth of his archives.

“It probably means that I don’t see as much as other people because for a lot of the time I’m looking at everything through a lens … but I think it’s worth it. You become an engaged observer, rather than one who’s just walking through.”

For questions about the Ed Trayes Photography Archives Scholarship Fund, contact School of Media and Communication Director of Development Michele Blazer at 215-204-3326 or