Joseph Kayne


The Navajo of Hubbel Trading Post

I suspect the concept for my project started when I was camera-less (and clueless) about forty-some years ago. I was ten years old, on a family road trip from Chicago to the Navajo and Hopi reservations in the Desert Southwest. My father was a collector of Native American art, and I went along for the ride. 

My project is devoted to the welfare, beauty, and uniqueness of a Native American culture. Specifically, I wish to bring attention to the value and elegance of the Navajo people. With the growing popularity of the Internet and social media, and as a result of pervasive marketing efforts by corporate America, the Navajo youth are drifting from their traditional ways and are often tempted to seek unlikely wealth and glorified lifestyles in larger cities—only to later see their dreams fade. 

For my storytelling I chose the ancient medium of wet-plate collodion tintype photography. This process merges the aesthetics of a venerable, traditional photographic process with those of a time-honored people. 

In September 2017, I was awarded an artist-in-residency at Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site. I returned to Hubbell to continue my work in October 2018, and I intend to go back again in 2019. Established in 1878, the trading post is located in Ganado, Arizona, thirty miles from Window Rock—the Navajo Nation headquarters. The post is still active and is operated by a nonprofit organization for the National Park Service. It is one of the few trading posts still in existence and continues the trading traditions started by the Hubbell family 140 years ago. To this day, it remains a hub of Navajo life. 

My initial intent was to photograph the Navajo people in modern day life, outside from the big-box outlets, the Walmarts, gas stations, churches, and grocery stores. I wanted to show what I believe to be the marks of an ongoing cultural extinction: people in sweatpants and brand-name tee-shirts; people who “stumble on” while the heart of their culture slowly dies, leaving them shells of their former selves; people who ironically become faint shadows of those they strive to imitate in the commercialized world. However, something entirely different happened: after gaining the trust of the Navajo people (which took time and diligent efforts as the Navajo don’t generally like to be photographed), they approached me and asked to be photographed in their traditional clothing and jewelry. A very proud people, their dignity shined. This view into a beautiful ancient culture drove my decision to employ a traditional photographic process, and to use an old wooden 8 x 10" Deardorff View Camera and a French brass Petzval lens made in 1870. 

Joseph Kayne photographs the American landscape, the Heartland, Native American archaeological sites, and the Navajo people with large format view cameras.  Kayne's photographs have been exhibited in galleries, museums, and private collections across the country. His clients include The Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, National Audubon Society, CF Martin Guitar Co., and the U.S. Department of Energy. Kayne has recently undertaken wet plate collodion photography using an 8 x 10" camera and was awarded an artist in residency twice by the U.S. National Park Service at the historic Navajo trading post, Hubbell Trading Post in the heart of Navajo Nation.

Kayne's interest in photography started while he was working in archaeology in Egypt and Israel during his college years. He received an art grant from the City of Chicago and has been a featured lecturer at the View Camera Magazine Large Format Photography Conference. Kayne's publication credits include: Lenswork, View Camera magazine, Coldwater Creek, Sierra Club, Arizona Highways, Audubon Calendars (cover), Nature Conservancy (cover), Photo Life magazine, Natural History magazine, and the Chicago Tribune. He was a featured photographer and named a “Lord of the Landscape” in Outdoor Photographer magazine’s landscape collector’s issue and is recognized as a long time large format nature photographer. Kayne's images have been presented on The New York Times LENS live blog.

Three of Kayne's photographs were included in EGO, a photo exhibition with a focus on the exploitation, glorification and objectification of the individual, in the main gallery at the Zhou B Art Center, Chicago (August-September 2013). His images have also been included in exhibits at Southeast Center for Photography, Perspective Gallery, and the Jackson-Junge Gallery. He has also had a solo exhibit with the United States National Park Service at the Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site.

All images are archival pigment inkjet prints from the original 8 x 10" wet plate collodion tintype plates. They are available in the following sizes: 11 x 14", 16 x 20", 20 x 24", and 30 x 40" in editions of 20. Prices are $650, $850, $1250, and $2500.00, respectively.

Please call: (312) 266 - 2350 for prices of specific pieces.
Prices are print only unless otherwise indicated.



Joseph Kayne
Cody, October, 2018
Joseph Kayne
Edison, October, 2018
Joseph Kayne
Emergence, September, 2017
Joseph Kayne
Former Miss Navajo Nation, October, 2018
Joseph Kayne
Navajo Cowboy, October, 2018
Joseph Kayne
Navajo Girl, October, 2018
Joseph Kayne
Navajo Hat, October, 2018
Joseph Kayne
Navajo Woman, October, 2018