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NYIP Student Success: L. Ron Hubbard

It's not often we can say that a graduate of our New York Institute of Photography founded a successful world religion, frequented the best-seller booklists, was a distinguished explorer, and became an accomplished photographer. All this, and more, can be said about NYIP graduate L. Ron Hubbard. Bridge Publications has just released The L. Ron Hubbard Series, and we were fortunate to receive a copy of this impressive set of volumes. Of particular interest to us was the volume entitled Photographer: Writing with Light (click on the title to watch an overview video and see some of his stunning photographic works). 

Mr. Hubbard began his study in our correspondence course in late 1961, and many of the learning techniques became part of his Study Technology for teaching Scientology to thousands of people in classrooms around the world. 

L. Ron Hubbard's interest in photography began at an early age, starting with his childhood Kodak Brownie Jr. Once the country's youngest Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America, he became a candidate for the Photography merit badge in the early 1920s. But it was a rocky road. Here's his account.

Down to the National Museum I went to see the examiner of the merit badge. He sat at a big desk in a room that was cluttered with human skulls and proceeded to inform me that I knew nothing about photography. I agreed with him perfectly and came again another day to find the same verdict. A month and ten visits later he signed my card just to be rid of me, telling me that I'd never know anything about photography due to my exceptional stupidity. This is rather abated by the fact that I just sold six pictures to the National Geographic magazine.

 Here are some of our favorite L. Ron Hubbard quotes on photography.

I've had to learn photography four times completely from scratch.

I won't take a photograph of anybody or photographs for anybody unless I feel it will do them some good.

I use the living daylights out of filters.

You can't pass up a shot just because you haven't got a special lens. You try to get the shot with the lens you have got. You will often find yourself on location without that special piece of equipment that has never been built and you will have to make up for it with your own ingenuity.

An amateur, for some reason, tries to get the most possible into one frame. He also does not see the world, from a photographic viewpoint, with a frame around it. He does not fill the frame. And he does not delete unwanted things.

Make the picture talk.

Preconceive the picture you are going to shoot. 


We're the New York Institute of Photographya distance education school teaching photography since 1910 - over 100 years of knowledge and experience. Listen to the following podcast to learn more about who we are and what we do.



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Reader Comments (50)

I live in Clearwater Florida. There are MANY different ways to look at the life of this man. Is this author or NYIP affiliated with Scientology at all?
September 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercristine
There are some things you don't want to shout about.
September 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarcus
I was thinking of taking the professional photography course until I saw this blog posting. I'm not so sure that I'd be proud to embrace him as a student. Successful religion? Really????
September 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShawn
I'd be very interested in knowing the authors affiliation with Scientology.
September 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTom
Jay, good stuff! thanks for posting this!
September 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterScott
This is kind of awesome! Great photos also. Never knew he went to NYIP
September 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJosh
Wow, fascinating. Especially the bottom photo which looks to have been cleverly done with a filter. Manipulating colors was not something to take for granted, in the days before digital photography and Photoshop.
September 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie
I thought his tips on photography were quite insightful. And the fact he created Scientology - what has that to do with photography? I've never judged a photo based on the religion of the shooter?
September 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim
I have taken good pictures, but thought the comment regarding fitting "everything" in was very helpful - as that is my worst fault when I take a photograph. I'm going to try what he says to improve my photos - and thanks for putting this up there - nice comment by Chuck Delaney.
September 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCharmaine
Thanks for the post, inspiring!
September 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMegan
For a long time I have wanted to join a photography course. I did not know there were correspondence courses for photography. This institute has produced students of this caliber--I now know whom to join!
September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge
Nice article! I've seen a lot of his photos and he's a real pro.
September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavid
Great article and great photographs!
As of religion or believes - that has nothing to do with it. He was a good photographer as can be seen in the photographs.
September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGabor Toth
Now that's an interesting facet to this man's life. Thanks for posting that.
September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie
Great article. It is inspiring and it has increased my interest in taking your corespondance course.
September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrian
Jay, great post. I thoroughly enjoyed it and have a greater appreciation of photography after reading it.
Chuck, your comment about photography being called "the universal language" and that a universal language can promote understanding has never been more necessary, was very well stated.
September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNicole
Interesting photos from an interesting man. I see his viewpoint on how to create art with a camera. Fortunately, I had more encouragement from merit badge counselors.
September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike
Great article! Mr. Hubbard's photography has always impressed me, and his mention of this program is what interested me in it in the first place.
September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike C
Very fascinating story. I've been contemplating taking the digital photography extension course and I am very happy to hear you take the very correct position of offering courses, without discrimination, to people in all countries and belief systems. I'll definitely be a future student. Cheers!
September 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike S
As an amateur photographer who can't afford fancy equipment (I bought a used Nikon D90, and only have two lenses, the kit zoom lens and a Nikon 50mm f/1.4 - my pride and joy), I frequently find myself in situations where I'm thinking - "if only I had a ___ lens, then I could really get a good shot". So the statement of "You can't pass up a shot just because you haven't got a special lens." definitely rings true for me.

The limitations of my equipment forces me to be more creative about composing the shot, or choosing the subject. One of the best tips I had from another photographer was, "read your camera manual!" - reading through the somewhat boring manual has also helped me get the most out of my limited gear and be able to use the limitations to my creative advantage.

Great article and now I'm very interested in NYIP's photography courses.
September 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCallie Ferman
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