Did you ever visit a museum, an art gallery or just stumble across a painting or photograph that took your breath away?
I did that very thing when I found photographer Robert John Guttke. What? you’ve never heard of him? Hopefully after this post, you will be just as intrigued as I was and dying to discover all of his masterpieces.

Robert is bred of a different era, a true master of his craft…and it can be seen in his body of work. I asked him to share with us a little about himself, what I got was proof that he is also an acomplished writer as well.

I’d like to share a few of his photos, but really the FOCUS is on the man behind the lens.

Here’s a little about the man, Robert John Guttke
 Born in Chicago I grew up in the neighboring town of Carpentersville. I went to Barrington High School and I met a friend who had not only a darkroom in his basement but loaned out one of his family’s many cameras. With a 35 mm and Tri-X film I was able to snap away at classmates and teachers; then later process the film, slip it in the enlarger, and watch as images appeared in the magic developer tray.
I received my BFA degree at Rockford College in Illinois. A photography course and subsequent job as photo assistant meant carte blanche to the darkrooms produced photographs that were statements in themselves but mostly I used the camera as source material for my drawings and sculptures.
During these years I also had access to the swim team, the rugby players, and the dance department.: all models for my work. These old drawings and photographs and slides of my sculpture are stored in a dilapidated portfolio under my bed where these now fifty year old classmates will forever remain in their early twenties.

After graduating in 1976 Minneapolis became my home. Working at the top of an old house I continued my sculpture, drawing and photography. I had at least three local exhibits of my work as well as showing work at Mindscape in Evanston, IL., Human Arts in Dallas TX, Prince Royal Gallery in Alexandria VA and Pendragon Gallery in Annapolis MD. I participated in the International Sculpture Center’s ‘James Wilbur Johnson Sculpture Competition for Figure Modeling’ in Baltimore… but by then things were changing.

One of my models wanted to get into a local model agency so I photographed him with that in mind. Instantly he was in local newspaper ads and posters in Dayton’s (now Macy’s) department store bare-chested and selling bed linens. A new door was opening but quality photography equipment was pricey.

I was greatly moved by the premiere of the CBS television program called ‘Beauty and the Beast’. Always a romantic at heart, this old fable turned into modern day adventure series spoke to me… but I wasn’t happy with the direction it was going. So on a whim I wrote my first teleplay and based it not only my favorite 1940’s film of all time: ‘Portrait of Jennie’ but also my own life.

Much like the magic of the developer tray in my high school days, the possibility of being part of the most enigmatic TV series appeared when a producer from Hollywood called and said my ‘When The Bluebird Sings’ was going to be made… and I was going to be paid.
Though a unique and gratifying experience I have always insisted it also was something of a fluke. It gave me photo equipment that I use still to this day and enabled me to travel and deal with a myriad of modeling agencies… and photographers.

During this period I met the legendary Victor Skrebneski and his wonderful studio people, Dennis Minkle and the late Jovahnna X. Over the years I have sent many of my ‘discoveries’ in his direction and also enjoyed the hospitality of these kind people.

My work was first seen as note cards and calendars by Museum Graphics, a company owned by the family of Ansel Adams. Obviously they had decided to branch out from the work of the historic iconic photographer. My first calendar attracted interest with KSTP’s Good Company.

Six of my models were paraded and interviewed in what can only be called a sensational approach. It didn’t work. One young man, a school teacher, explained, “I have always wanted to be good at art but wasn’t; now I feel I am facilitating it.” Microphones drooped as did the mouths of the hosts.

A small independent press paid attention to all those note cards and within a few years the first collection of my work was published in the volume called ShadowLight. Limited to only 5,000 copies it is now as rare as unicorn horns.
Some years ago I had the insane idea to promote a calendar through Barnes & Noble at The Mall of America. Ten of the models were put onstage to practice their penmanship. Organizing this and dealing with the media was exhausting. Four of the calendar guys were interviewed the next morning on WCCO and the host giggled “it was the best interview I ever had.” No one asked who had taken the photographs. Sigh. Always a bride’s maid, never a bride.
July 2008 in San Francisco I had my first solo exhibition. The people of this city were so kind to me, so savvy and enthusiastic about my art. Someone had at last asked who took the pictures.
Over the years my models were found in a variety of places but mostly the city lakes of Minneapolis. Those interested in the commercial world I have connected with jobs, agencies and other photographers across the country. Many of these folks stayed in front of my camera for ten years or more. Today I photograph their children.
And enjoy it. Children, puppies, kittens, families… all having a good time in front of the camera is very satisfying for me. So fleeting and thus challenging. Unlike those ageless images within my college portfolio, I hope my new work will suit a variety of needs and find a place in the sun.

Visit Robert’s website to contact him or to view his

You can also find his book of photography on Amazon and see the amazing work for yourself.Shadow Light: The Photography of Robert John Guttke

Do you have questions for Robert? I do!

Stay turned for an upcoming interview and and guest chat with the photographer himself. I’m sure we all want to know more about the man who gets to shoot photos like these.