By David Halpern
When Richard Khanlian died this past weekend at his Santa Fe home, the news came as a complete shock to his family and friends. To all of us, especially those who spent time with him during the preceding days, he was the picture of good health—this gentle giant of man we revered for his gentlemanly demeanor, his disarming modesty, his love of life and family, the depth of his knowledge and his refreshing wit. His loss will be deeply felt in many ways by people who knew him throughout his fascinating life, especially as a photographer, journalist and educator,
Born and raised in New York, Richard earned a degree at Oberlin College and spent a year at Columbia University’s school of journalism. In the 1960s he began his photographic career as a feature photographer for the New York Times International Edition in Paris. He returned to New York in 1967.
Richard married and moved to Corrales, New Mexico in the late 1960s and underwent a personal evolution. He had two children, tried a number of occupational forays into diverse areas, all the while maintaining his interest in photography. Amid this activity his first marriage ended. He taught in a community college and in 1983, he met Ann Alexander. They married in 1985. They moved to Santa Fe where for three years he worked at Camera and Darkroom and ran a custom black and white printing service. From that, he developed his own free-lance business and became known for his fine art, travel, documentary, editorial and stock photography.
Richard’s impact on others is evident in the response of many of his colleagues who appreciated his insatiable thirst for knowledge, his incredible eye, well-developed sense of moment and benefitted from his generous gifts of time and information. His neighbors have been heard to ask, “Who else would carry in my groceries or shovel my driveway?” Those of us who accompanied him on photo excursions or shared many a casual meal discussing a lot more than photography already miss a uniquely caring friend.
In addition to the New York Times, his photographs appeared in Der Spiegel, The Albuquerque Journal, The Albuquerque Tribune, The Santa Fe New Mexican, Guest Life New Mexico and other publications. His prints have been exhibited at The Museum of New Mexico and other galleries and venues in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. He was a life member of the American Society of media Photographers and was an active participant on the ASMP’s New Mexico Chapter’s board for so many years that no one remembers when he wasn’t.