The Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Ken Lubas has taken photos of some of the most prolific and defining moments in Los Angeles during the 1990s. This passion and love extend beyond the Canyon Country resident’s career. He enjoys photographing various projects to highlight Indigenous tribes, but he has also begun a new journey of photographing with his son, Jason Lubas.
The award-winning photography career of Ken Lubas began when he was an 8-year-old in Sun Valley and took a photo of a plane crash. He tried to offer his picture to the local newspaper but was immediately rejected.
The passion for telling stories continued in high school when Ken thought he wanted to be a writer, but after taking a photography course, he realized what he wanted to do for the rest of his life: take photographs.
After graduating high school and attending Los Angeles Valley College, Ken took journalism courses, which was the only way you were allowed to take photography classes at the time.
While attending California State University, Northridge, Ken continued pursuing journalism and photography — which opened doors for a copywriter position — allowing him to work at the Los Angeles Times.
Ken continued to work as a reporter until one day when a major story broke about an oil leak, and the editor handed him a camera to take photos of the events.
“I go take the picture, run back to the office, they took the film right away for the evening edition, half of the front page is my picture of the oil blowing,” Ken said. “My first photo in the L.A. Times that I made was on the front page.”
As Ken’s career progressed, he began to take photos of the wilderness and other subject matter in his free time. These photography adventures were an opportunity for him to take his children and show them how to photograph the world around them.
“I decided I was going to do a picture a day, so on Saturdays and Sundays, I get the kids in the car, we take pictures someplace and go on vacation,” Ken said.
After Ken was going through a personal crisis, he visited Washington state and, during dinner, saw an Eagle land near a window. The incident motivated him to take pictures of the custodians of the land, Native Americans.
Ken began attending different Native American events and discovered a respect and appreciation for their heritage and culture.
“I love to do the pow wows but I have so many pictures to work on right now,” Ken said about the recent photos he’s taken.
Currently, a large body of his work is on display at the Chumash Indian Museum in Thousand Oaks and featured in other galleries in Washington state and California.
Ken said he always tries to find a different angle or view to tell his stories and he attributes that mindset as a piece of his success. With many of his works on display, he decided to create Art Beyond Control, a website to showcase his works for everyone to see.
Now in retirement, Ken continues to enter photography competitions, manage his website and goes shooting with his son.
Jason is picking up the talent his father has instilled in him throughout his life and has begun to enter the same photography competitions as his father — even beating him.
When Ken was asked how he felt taking second place to his son in a recent photo competition, he responded, “proud. It makes me feel really good … I’m leaving something [behind].”
According to Ken, his son Jason was reluctant to enter competitions and join the Santa Clarita and the Simi Valley Art Associations.
For Jason, he grew up around art with his father’s photography but also his mother’s paintings; this passion for art propelled him to learn animation in college.
The ability to bond with his father over the shared passion of photography brought them closer beyond parent and son, but as friend and colleague.
Jason placed third in his first photography contest held in Santa Paula, and has since placed first in various competitions in Simi Valley and Santa Clarita. This newly found confidence for photography allowed him to pursue a board of directors’ seat for the Simi Valley Art Association.
“I just never thought I had talent. It was something I enjoyed doing,” Jason said.
In that first photography competition in Santa Paula, Jason won a gift certificate, which he used to buy a camera and began to take it seriously.
“These last couple contests I’ve done well and I got first place, which felt good,” Jason jokingly said. “So now my ego is up there.”
As a member of the board of directors, Jason is now involved with setting up events and hopes to elevate their events to the next level — along with entering photo competitions.
Jason doesn’t feel like he has a particular style yet and is still evolving. His hope is to get into illustration and incorporate fantasy elements to his work.
As Jason continues to grow as a photographer, he plans to continue his trips with his father to shoot the world around them, building his photography Instagram account and enjoying the process.
“It’s fun feeding each other images that we take and there is camaraderie,” Jason said. “He’s become more than just my father and more of a friend and comrade.”