From rock bands to scenic beauty, alum finds calling in professional photography
Growing up on the east coast, Erik Kabik ’97 didn’t have the opportunity to explore the west but it was after a year at Farleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, that he got the urge after falling in love the legendary rock band The Grateful Dead. He came west for a concert in San Francisco then visited what was then Southern Oregon State College (SOSC) and the University of Oregon. Like many before him and after, he fell in love with the quaint campus, the Siskiyous and the community of Ashland.
Erik was admitted and continued his education as a Raider and thought he would pursue a psychology degree. An artist by nature, he was inspired by alum Glenn Bodish ‘92 and picked up a camera and started to document the life of the community with photographs. He changed his major to journalism with an emphasis on photo journalism. “Tom Pyle was an awesome professor and highly inspiring. I also loved Wes Chapman’s fine art photography courses and that really made me fall in love with photography,” he said. He was also a staff member with the school newspaper, The Siskiyou, serving as the photo editor for two years. “That was my first experience with a publishing organization and we had a tight-knit little staff that made it a great experience.”
Initially, he split his time between Ashland and Las Vegas in the spring of 1995, where he worked during the opening months at the Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas. He returned to Ashland for a short time in 1996 working at the Community Food Store before he graduated in spring of 1997 with his bachelor of arts in journalism. He had already made a full time move to Las Vegas in 1996, where he had also been working for a local magazine shooting rock musician photography. “I love music so photographing rock bands was a dream job for me and I got to shoot some heavy hitters like the Rolling Stones, Jerry Garcia, Carlos Santana, Aerosmith, U-2, Journey and Bruno Mars,” said Erik. He also got to do some shoots with world famous chef Gordon Ramsey. He’s even taken photographs of President Barack Obama. He would spend the next 25 years in Las Vegas shooting a variety of big-time artists and concerts.
After a few years of visiting Hawaii periodically, he decided to stay and now makes his home between Las Vegas and Oahu. He’s proud that he is leaning back on his time at SOSC by going back to his photo-journalism roots by photographing Hawaii’s natural beauty. “This is a new inspiration for me but with volcanoes, beaches and natural beauty here, it reminds me of those three fun years in Ashland shooting the likes of Crater Lake, Mt. Shasta and the Siskiyous,” said Erik
“My experience at SOSC is something I will cherish for the rest of my life. The intimacy of the class sizes and access, working closely with my professors, really made a difference. I received a top-quality education in a supportive environment that enabled me to go into the world, confident and prepared to take on my career in photography. And even more than that, it rounded me out as an adult, preparing me for dealing with life’s challenges and rewards.”
Learn more: Erik Kabik Photography