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In memoriam: Herbert Keppler, a respected and influential figure in the camera industry, passes away.

Herbert "Burt" Keppler, longtime publisher of leading photography publications and PMA Hall of Fame member, died Jan. 4. He was 82.

Keppler's career spanned 57 years--37 years at Modern Photography and 20 years at Popular Photography--and received numerous worldwide honors. He was among only a few Westerners to receive high honors by the Emperor of Japan for his contributions to the Japanese photographic industry. In 2002, he was presented the "Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Rosette" at the Japanese Consulate in New York, N.Y., by Ambassador Yoshiro Nishida, consul general of Japan.

"Burt was a friend and mentor to everyone who shoots pictures," said John Owens, senior vice president/group editorial director and editor in chief of Popular Photography and Imaging. "His insights and advice had a huge impact for decades, nationally and internationally. It is hard to imagine a time when Burt Keppler's influence will not be felt."

Born in New York, Keppler was the son of the famous commercial illustrator, Victor Keppler. He began taking photographs at age 6 and, by age 10, he processed his own color film. As a teenager, he was shooting and printing portraits of his classmates at the Admiral Farragut Academy and selling them to their parents.

After earning a Bachelor of the Arts degree at Harvard University (in 2.5 years), Keppler was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy at the tail end of World War II, served as an officer aboard a landing craft support (LCS) ship, and eventually became a lieutenant, the commanding officer of a crew of 65.

After the war, Keppler went into newspaper and magazine journalism. He was a reporter for The New York Sun, which helped hone his natural writing skills, and he worked for Footwear News, a trade magazine.

In 1950, he became an associate editor at a new photographic magazine called Modern Photography. He became executive editor in 1956, editor and publisher in 1963, and editorial director and publisher in 1966. Keppler elevated the authority of the magazine by establishing a rigorous testing lab for cameras and equipment, as well as establishing a code of ethics for advertisers.

He was a champion of the single-lens reflex camera (SLR), writing a popular SLR column series explaining the numerous advantages over the then-dominant 35mm rangefinder cameras, including their upside potential for future development.

Keppler was also one of the first photo magazine journalists to recognize the potential of the Japanese photographic industry, and he wrote extensively about the excellence and technical ingenuity of Japanese cameras and lenses. He first went to Japan in 1956, and returned every 2 years thereafter, establishing close personal ties with leading members of the Japanese camera industry, from corporate heads to senior engineers.


Inducted into the PMA Hall of Fame in 1985, Keppler said at that time: "The work is extremely creative and provides a wonderful opportunity to bring education to so many people in the world."

In 1987, he joined rival publication Popular Photography, and brought with him many of the concepts he started at Modern, including the establishment of a testing lab. At the time of his death, he was vice president/senior counselor, and was still actively writing his "Inside Straight" column for Popular Photography.
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Title Annotation:Connections
Author:Pageau, Gary
Publication:PMA Magazine - Connecting the Imaging Communities
Article Type:Obituary
Date:Mar 1, 2008
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