Ben Upham was born on November 20, 1957 in Mill Valley, California, a small town about 7 miles North of San Francisco. He lived there throughout high school and one year of college before heading 1,000 miles Northeast to Spokane, Washington at age 18 in August of 1976. Although he moved back to California for a few years in the early ‘80s, he has been living in Spokane since August of 1985.
Ben’s first interest in photography came in 1970 at the age of 12 when he started appreciating sports photos of his favorite major league baseball players.
He was particularly impressed with action shots of infielders that were leaping into the air to avoid a sliding runner while throwing the ball to complete a double play! The photographer’s ability to freeze a baseball one inch away from being smacked out of the park by a Louisville Slugger bat was also quite impressive to Ben!
He worked at a pet store in Mill Valley after school and saved his money to buy a “nice camera” in 1973. His first camera was a Fujica ST-701. This was a great camera for him to learn on, but a year later in 1974 Fujica released their new model, the ST-901 which had some stunning features such as automatic exposure control and faster shutter speeds. He traded in the ST-701, and paid a few hundred dollars more to get the ST-901 as well as a 200mm telephoto lens so he could bring the action in closer!
Ben decided to take photo classes at Tamalpais High School during his junior year from instructor Herschel Tribbett. It was there that he learned the skills for developing black & white film, and dark room techniques for printing. Two of Ben’s good friends, Ethan Grossman & Chris Mulhern also provided many important tips and helped him to set up his own darkroom at his Grandmothers house, next door to where he lived with his parents.
He joined the high school newspaper and yearbook staffs during his junior year, and became the main photographer for both the following year as a senior. Aside from taking the Sports pictures and High School candids he started to take the camera along on nature hikes and to rock concerts. This is where Ben started to really connect with the artistic side of his photography skills. Ethan showed Ben how to push the film that he used (Tri-X) for greater light sensitivity, since many of the concert shots were taken in very low light conditions.
Over the course of the next five years (1975-1980) Ben would photograph nearly every concert that he attended (in both California and Washington), and has wound up with over 6,000 images of 50 major rock bands from that era! Most of these photos are black & white, and the quality varies according to the unique circumstances surrounding the conditions at any given concert.
In 2007 Ben purchased a computer for the express purpose of being able to scan and store his vast collection of rock musician images. It has taken nearly 3 years for him to accomplish this work! In early 2008 he bought a Sony A-100 Digital SLR camera with a Tamron 70-300mm zoom lens (w/macro). He used this equipment exclusively over the next 2 years to capture images of natural landscapes and wildlife. Ben is now sharing many of the natural images he has shot on this website!
Several of Ben’s Photos have wound up being published by major recording artists on a variety of projects.
*The first of his photos to be published wound up in the deluxe sixty- page booklet that came with the Lynyrd Skynyrd 3-CD box set, released on MCA Records November 12, 1991. It was a photo he had taken at a Winterland, San Francisco concert on March 6, 1976.
*Next was a 2-Cassette Tape Rory Gallagher Tribute by Various Artists, released in 1996 featuring two of Ben’s photos from Kent,Washington 12/18/79 as cover shots.
*On January 25, 2000 Hopesong/GMV Nashville re-released Toy Caldwell’s only solo effort, “Son of the South”, and it featured 2 of Ben’s Spokane 3/9/79 pictures in the booklet. Toy was the main talent in the Marshall Tucker Band from 1970-1983.
*In 2002 Gene Odom & Frank Dorman published their highly acclaimed book, “Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Free Birds of Southern Rock” on Broadway Books, a division of Random House. The wonderful 220 page book features nine of Ben’s Skynyrd photos from various shows!
*Later that year (2002) British rock band Be Bop Deluxe issued a fine CD called “Tremulous Antennae”, which featured rare archival live recordings of the band made by the BBC in 1976-1978, and included one of Ben’s Spokane 11/19/76 shots in that package.
*On April 25, 2006 Tommy Bolin Archives released some of the finest unheard studio recordings of Bolin’s career with the amazing CD “Whips & Roses” on SPV Records. That package included a beautiful booklet featuring one of Ben’s shots of Tommy Bolin from Winterland in San Francisco on 5-7-76.
*In 2011 Ben’s photos found there way into 2 new books! “Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ronnie Van Zant and me Gene Odom” by Gene Odom, which features a Ronnie Van Zant photo that Ben shot on 4-27-75 at Winterland on the cover.
Also Ben has 3 pictures and a concert review (that he wrote) in the book, “Black Sabbath FAQ” (all that’s left to know on the first name in metal) by Martin Popoff. For any Sabbath fan this is a wonderful book!
*In 2012 Ben’s photos made it into yet another book by author Martin Popoff. This time it was six pictures in the stunning new biography of Ted Nugent called “Epic Ted Nugent”.
Ben has finished working on a Nature & Wildlife photography book of his own called “Spokane, Near Perfect Nature” that will feature many of his photos from the natural areas surrounding Spokane, Washington. He is waiting for better economic times to release the book on advice from publishers.
This Website, “Magical Moment Photos”, is the first time that Ben’s work has been assembled and made available to the public. It is his hope that the Website will expand into one that will feature all aspects of his photography. A forum has been added in 2011 called “Blogjams” featuring many interesting articles and stories about the bands featured on this website!
You can also see Ben’s latest offerings at his Fine Art America site by
CLICKING THE LINK BELOW:
FINE ART AMERICA IMAGES BY BEN UPHAM
as well as his Zazzle Store which offers a variety of Ben’s Images on Mugs & Shirts:
BEN UPHAM DESIGNS ZAZZLE STORE
A Personal Message From Ben
Greetings and welcome to the Magical Moment Photos Website…
It is an honor and a privilege to have you here right now!
Over the course of my 54 years in this life I have seen the world as only I can.
My goal and intention for this website is to share that view with all who choose to partake. Also to make the artwork available for anyone who wishes to obtain and possess it for their personal enjoyment.
Magic Moments occur all the time. However, it requires some awareness on one’s part to realize and witness them as they happen. Having a camera aimed and adjusted properly at that moment is the real challenge facing any photographer attempting to capture them. I may go two or three weeks at a time without capturing one, and then suddenly get four or five within a minute…
The basis of my photography is about enjoyment, which coincidentally happens to be our main purpose in life. If the images I have captured bring joy to you, then I have accomplished my goal!
Thank you for your time.
Peace & Love through Frozen Light,