A Tribute to Frank Lee Ruggles

A few years ago I had the privilege to attend a lecture by Frank Lee Ruggles at a local REI. He was a former member of the U.S. Army Paratroopers, 82nd Airborne Division which was impressive, and a former eminent photographer for the National Park Service, a position once held by Ansel Adams. As you might imagine, he was dedicated to documenting, preserving, protecting and promoting our National Parks and public lands; and because of his relationships with the National Parks and The Department of the Interior he gained access to places that most photographers can only dream about. It was hard not to be super jealous of him.

He was kind enough to meet with me so that I could pick his brain as a fellow photographer. He patiently responded to emails about gear and permits I sent him over the years. Most recently he was working on a project to recreate a series of Ansel Adams photographs that included not only tracing and researching Adams’ exact locations, but clicking the shutter at the exact same day and time, using the same vintage cameras and lenses.


Sadly, earlier this week Frank died unexpectedly.  I couldn’t believe it when I saw the announcement on his Instagram page.  Yet another example of how we all need to value every day of good health, and another chance to love life, no matter what it throws at you. Not always easy.

His family has set up a donation site for the National Park Trust in his name. I thought it would be appropriate to share the link and celebrate his photography and his efforts on behalf of public lands and waters. Please send a kind word to his family on Instagram and donate if you are so inclined. Thanks!