Serving Iowa Photographers since 1947




It is with great honor and deepest respect that the Professional Photographers of Iowa presented the Professional Photographers of America National Service Award at Winter Convention this year to Uldis “Whitey” Ilvess. Whitey is the sixty first recipient that PPI has awarded the National Service Award to.

Whitey’s wife Elaine wrote this about her husband for Toni Harryman to read during Banquet night at Winter Conventing. Unfortunately due to bad weather and the fact that Whitey had the good car, Elaine was unable to see him win this honor. The room was full of tears, cheers and we all stood in reverence of his achievement. The following is Elaine’s letter.

Anyone who has seen Whitey’s business card soon recognizes that he was drawn to the camera at a young age. Following graduation from Warren Harding High School, Warren, Ohio, and two years of Army service, with deployment in Korea, he settled into the Des Moines area. While working at Armstrong Tire and Rubber, he enrolled in photography classes at the Des Moines Art Center, where he became an instructor for four years. He served as the Iowa State Fair photo exhibit curator for three years and judged a number of art competitions.

Whitey was employed as a professional photographer for 37 years. Beginning in 1973, he worked for the University of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Sciences/Des Moines University for 22 years, where he served faculty and students. His work was diverse and ranged from the simple to the complex, including live photography of complex surgical procedures. His in-house services, capturing both technical detail and artistic expression, included public relations and classroom and textbook illustration. For 15 years he was staff photographer for Iowa Health Systems/Unity Point Public Relations Department. In this capacity, he worked closely with hundreds of medical professionals and staff effectively illustrating the broad spectrum of services provided by this statewide hospital and clinic system. Following his retirement in 2010, he has continued to provide consultant services.

He had the unique opportunity to provide the first photos of Iowa’s McCaughey septuplets, including a life-size two-page spread of septuplet Kenny McCaughey. His work was published in Time Life, People and other major publications. In addition, his photography was been featured in the Iowan magazine and numerous medical journals and publications.

Beginning in the 1970’s and continuing today, he has actively pursued freelance photography assignments and donated his photography skills for charitable causes. Throughout his life he has strived to challenge himself and his colleagues. He has been the student, seeking professional enrichment, and has been the instructor or mentor, sharing his vision and skills with others. In his association with PPI, he has conducted or assisted with Super Mondays, Competition College and other educational opportunities. For many years he has worked with print crew and wherever he has been asked to assist.

PPI has named Whitey a Top Ten Photographer of the Year for 14 consecutive years–nine years as a Master Photographer and five years as a non-Master. In 2017 he was recognized as PPI Master Photographer of the Year. He has created 12 PPA loan prints. In 2010 he was one of 12 photographers in the nation to receive the Canon Par Excellence Award. He won the LexJet Sunset Print Award in Iowa in 2014 and 2017 and was third place in the 2017 National Sunset Award competition. He also had the highest scoring print with ASP (American Society of Photographers) for Iowa in 2014 and 2017.

Whitey and his wife Elaine celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary this year. They have two sons and four grandchildren. Their life together has always included travel. Always hunting for the back roads and railroad tracks, they have visited 20 countries and 49 states. They’re always up for a good road trip!

Uldis “Whitey” Ilvess is a Master Photographer, Craftsman, Professional Photographers of America (PPA), and an Iowa Fellow of Photography, Professional Photographers of Iowa (PPI). His inspiration is to advance photography as a creative art form utilizing color, space and texture.

After the excitement of the convention had time to wear off and Whitey had some time to reflect, our Executive Director Kris Kelly called Whitey. She asked him to share his thoughts on winning such a prestigious award.

Kris: “What was going through your head when you realized that Toni was talking about you?”

Whitey: “My first reaction when Toni started reading was: I knew it must be me. Then when she said my name, I was looking for the exit, but I knew I couldn’t let anyone down. PPI has done a lot for me over the years.”

Past National Award Recipients

2018 Larry Erickson, M.Photog.Cr., Ph.A
2017 Toni Johnson-Harryman, M.Photog.Cr., Ph.A., CPP
2016 Aletha Speakar
2015 John Mohr, M.Photog.Cr., Ph.A.
2014 Steve Kelly, Cr., Ph.A.
2013 Wes Seibe, M.Photog.Cr., Ph.A.
2012 Barb Grabill, M.Photog.Cr., Ph.A.
2011 Eric Niceswanger, M.Photog.Cr., Ph.A. CPP
2010 Sari Hawkins
2009 Jon Read, M.Photog.Cr., Ph.A., CPP
2008 Dick Christian
2007 Bruce Belling, M.Photog.Cr., Ph.A., CPP
2006 Gary Sterling, M.Photog.Cr., Ph.A., CPP
2005 Chris Becker, M.Photog.Cr., Ph.A., CPP
2004 Bob Hawkins, M.Photog.Cr., MEI, Ph.A. CPP
2003 Rick Krebsbach, M.Photog.Cr., Ph.A., CPP
2002 F.Alan Adams, M.Photog.Cr., Ph.A., CPP
2001 Fred Feddelke, M.Photog.Cr., Ph.A., CPP
2000 Walt Stutzman
1999 Charles Lee, Ph.A.
1998 Don Collinson
1997 Michael Geary
1996 Leo Zeithamel, Ph.A.
1995 Gerald Crabtree, M.Photog., CPP
1994 Norma Wangsness, M.Photog.Cr., Ph.A.
1993 Al DeWild, Ph.A., CPP
1992 Tom Brown
1991 Larry Loth, M.Photog.Cr., Ph.A.
1990 Gerald Kleene, Ph.A.
1989 Martha Chisman
1988 JoAnn Belling, M.Photog.Cr., Ph.A.
1987 Sara M. Fishman, M.Photog., Ph.A.
1986 Faye Walton
1985 James Buckroys, M.Photog.
1985 Gerald Crabtree
1984 Bernerd Ions, CPP
1983 Thomas Belling, M.Photog.Cr., Ph.A.
1982 C. Richard Guillaume
1981 Jim Noble, CPP
1980 C.F. Kent
1979 Marvin Burk, Cr., Ph.A.
1978 Richard Mueller
1977 Bill Fuller
1976 Eugene Strathman, Ph.A.
1975 Fritz Logeland
1974 William S. Dupree, M.Photog.Cr.
1973 Gene Chisman, CPP
1972 Jake Thorson, M.Photog.
1971 Donald Lohnes N, M.Photog.Cr.
1970 Kay Isaacson M.Photog.Cr.
1969 John Amborn M.Photog.
1968 Kermit Buntrock-Duane Salie, Cr.
1967 Robert Eaton
1966 Loren Chisman
1965 Tom Henning
1964 Lyle Taylor, M.Photog.
1963 Harold Johnson, M.Photog.
1962 Fred Smith
1961 Harry Prinze
1960 Scotty Anderson
1959 Winton Medlar M.Photog.Cr.
1958 Roland Townsend

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