Staff Profile: Senior Photographer Kelly Gorham

From sports events to ceremonies to headshots, Kelly Gorham has shot it all. As the MSU news senior photographer, Gorham has contributed to MSU through the years by capturing the successes of the university through his lens.

Growing up in Missoula, Gorham was first introduced to photography by his father. The two enjoyed viewing film slides of Germany, taken by his father’s 35mm camera. As Gorham grew up, he received a subscription to National Geographic and quickly grew fond of photography as a profession. “It wasn’t the picture itself that I liked; it was the adventure that it represented,” Gorham said. As an avid freestyle skier and a fan of nature, this sense of adventure and exploration drew him into the world of photography.

After working in a dark room chemicals company and graduating high school, Gorham enrolled in MSU’s photography program. In the summer of his junior year he returned to his hometown and approached the Missoulian for a position. “I didn’t care if I had to scrub the floors,” he said, “I just wanted to get my foot in the door anyway I could.” The paper said no, until a project to photograph a local construction site came across the desks of Missoulian employees. The job was passed on entirely until there was no one to do it. Then Gorham was hired for his first true job as a photographer. Early in his position there Gorham learned that “photojournalism is 99 percent interacting with people, and 1 percent taking pictures.”

Once an MSU graduate, he went to Nevada to work as a photographer for a local paper. While working there as a photojournalist, Gorham was able to capture everything from heartwarming community achievements to moments that made his heart drop. After a few years had gone by, he realized the profession just did not fit. Gorham refers to “the shot he didn’t take,” a moment that he simply felt was unethical to photograph. That day he quit his job at the newspaper.

Seeking employment, he moved back to Bozeman and realized MSU was hiring. After working as a contracted photographer for one year, Gorham was officially hired on as MSU staff. A major responsibility for Gorham is the Mountains and Minds publication, a MSU-produced publication featuring work from Gorham and his fellow team members. One of his past projects was to construct a profile on an MSU student from every town in Montana. He took the task with enthusiasm as he enjoyed traveling across the state to interact with people he wouldn’t have otherwise.

Additionally to his professional work Gorham created a personal project he later titled “Cold City,” a photo essay on post Cold War Berlin. Gorham started the project in 2005 where he researched what sites he would document, but more importantly how to to document them. Three years later Gorham traveled to Berlin to capture photographs powerful enough to be featured in a permanent exhibit in the National Cold War Museum in Washington D.C.

Gorham had an exciting life in his photojournalism career, but said he has loved no job more than his current position at MSU. “I love this job,” he said, “Never before have I been able to constantly feature success. There are amazing things happening at this university, and I’m in a position to show those to people. I love that.”