Kathy Ryan, photography director of The New York Times Magazine, on Kwaku Alston. Plus: Behind-the-scenes video of Kwaku’s Nikon shoot with Ashton Kutcher.

The fall issue of PDNedu, a magazine produced by PDN for photo educators and their students, includes a feature on Kwaku Alston that covers everything from how he established himself—entering, and winning, photo contests while a student at Rochester Institute of Technology gave him a big boost—to his experiences photographing celebrity portraits, the First Family, and his Venice Beach neighborhood, as well as his interest in bringing his motion skills to his commercial work.

One of Kwaku’s first champions was Kathy Ryan, the longtime director of photography for The New York Times Magazine. She first encountered his work through a photo contest he entered in his senior year of college, an image that was then published in American Photo magazine. “It had a spirited, very upbeat quality and was quite impressive, particularly for student work,” she tells PDNedu.

Kwaku went on to shoot a number of assignments for Ryan. “Kwaku’s work is consistently engaged and lively. There’s never anything dark of brooding about his pictures—he brings a lot of energy to his assignments, and his photographs always show that.”

The complete issue of PDNedu is available for free in digital form online. The feature on Kwaku starts here and includes a behind-the-scenes video of Kwaku photographing Ashton Kutcher for a Nikon campaign.

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The opening spread of PDNedu’s feature on Kwaku Alston, as seen in the fall 2012 issue.

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