Find A Photographer Find An Assistant Join ASMP Join the Mailing List

Merit Member Allison Kwesell

Web site:

Current location/For how long: Chattanooga, Tennessee / 6 months
School/Degree received: University of Montana/B.A. in Photojournalism. Working towards a master’s in Anthropology at The University of Montana

All photos © Allison Kwesell

Recent awards or distinctions: Eddie Adams Workshop Merit Award; Excellence Award and Grant, University of Montana, Office of the President; Glen Chaffin Scholarship, University of Montana School of Journalism; Undergraduate Research Grant, University of Montana Research Office; Research Grant, University of Montana School of Journalism; University of Montana School of Journalism, Best Photo Contest; Melvin and Myrtle Lord Scholarship; Western Undergraduate Exchange Scholarship; SIT Merit Scholarship; Eckerd College Merit Scholarship.
Recent Clients: Chattanooga Times Free Press, Chattanooga, Tennessee; Kathmandu Post, Kathmandu, Nepal; Kantipur Daily, Kathmandu, Nepal

How long have you been working professionally?

Two years.

What has been your favorite photographic assignment or project to date?

My favorite assignment thus far has been documenting Tibetan refugees across South Asia and to the United States because I had the chance to spend several years living with and learning from Tibetan refugees. This extended stay proved invaluable in working towards understanding their struggle as a landless people.

What has been your most challenging photographic assignment or project to date?

My most challenging assignment thus far was a story about a young girl whose biological mother lost custody of her for using methamphetamines, among other things. She currently lives in a poor trailer park in rural Montana where her grandmother cares for her. This story really affected me after my return from South Asia because, for the first time, I was photographing a story in my back yard that was very different from my own life. The family lived about an hour from my house, and every day that I would drive home after being with them, I would cry because I could not understand why this young girl was born into such a difficult life, and why I, living so incredibly close, was not.

Please describe any special photographic projects or assignments in which you are currently engaged.

I am currently working on documenting children who are being raised by people other then their biological parents. For my master’s thesis, I will be working on documenting the lives of Muslim widows struggling to raise their children after their husbands have been killed in recent conflicts.

What is your greatest photographic aspiration?

I would like to work in conflict zones in South Asia and the Middle East.

What is your primary source of news about the photography industry?

Billy Weeks, the Director of Photography/Graphics at the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

In your opinion, what is the most critical issue affecting photographers today?

Ethics. Money comes and goes, as does equipment, but we are all human and as journalists we must never stop questioning our moral codes while reporting.

Were you aware of the ASMP before receiving a Merit Membership?


Since receiving your Merit Membership, have you taken advantage of any of the resources, services or discounts that ASMP offers to members?

No, I just received my membership last week.

Do you participate in any of the existing ASMP specialty groups or listservs? If so, which ones?


Do you belong to other photographic associations or online groups?

If so, which ones? NPPA, Lightstalkers and the Tennessee Press Association.

What do you consider to be the most valuable aspect of your Merit Membership in the ASMP?

It will give me a chance to continue exploring rights, ethics, and networking opportunities with other photographers.

Is there any particular resource or information that you would like to see ASMP implement as an added service to the members?