Aaron Draper

Aaron Draper

Aaron Draper's career in visual storytelling has spanned journalism, commericial and wedding photography, and teaching.


Aaron Draper's career in visual story telling began as a columnist and features editor for a daily newspaper. He developed an interest in photography; he especially enjoyed the relationship between text and art. He began photographing weddings in 1997.

After moving to Modesto, CA in 1999, his wedding career blossomed. In addition to photographing weddings, he founded a regional bridal publication titled Bride Nouveau, which he did for five years. His work was also featured on "America's Next Top Model."

Draper hosted his Technique + Intuition workshops, where he discovered his love for teaching. He received his MFA Degree from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco in Dec. 2014. He refined his project on the homeless, Underexposed, and presented it as his master's thesis.

This project enabled him to use photography as a vehicle for social activism. Draper has always had empathy for the disenfranchised, and he wanted to focus attention on these individuals to change society's perception of them. His approach is to photograph them in a flattering light usually reserved for the affluent. He has donated photos to many nonprofit organizations that are advocates for the homeless.

Draper has been humbled at the reception of his project. After he was interviewed by Taylor Kubota of Seeker, A Discovery Digital Network, the project went viral and has been shared on more than 200 websites. It's been translated into fifteen languages to date.

Draper attended Bucharest Photo Week, Romania's largest photography convention, in September. He spoke at the convention, hosted lighting workshops and exhibited his series of homeless photos.

He's completing a book based on curriculum he's shared with his students titled Technique + Intuition: Photo Fundamentals for the Visual Artist. Along with working as a commercial photographer, he teaches Intro, Intermediate and Advanced Photography courses at California State University, Chico.

As a way to encourage and help photographers of all levels, Draper created a blog called ProfessionalPhotoCritique.org that gives feedback on photos submitted from all over the world.

Draper is known for his emphasis on lighting. He has a love of light and a passion for narrative, and his students and clients enjoy his sense of humor and his ability to connect with them. Draper feels that as artists, we have an opportunity to challenge the status quo and encourage social change.

PIX Talks

Tuesday Oct. 6, 12:50 – 1:10 PM • re:FRAME stage

Session 2.3.

Wednesday Oct. 7, 3:00 – 3:25 PM • Expo stage