David Lee Guss







David Lee Guss

David Lee Guss

Casa Grande, AZ


I first became obsessed with photography and motion pictures while growing up in post WW2 Manila in the Philippine Islands in the late 1940's/early 1950's. Film noirs were a particular influence.

But my first love remains the theater. I acted in numerous amateur productions from 1958 to 1978. In 1979 I earned a MA in drama from the University of Arizona; earlier getting a BA in English from the University of Minnesota, where I co-founded the first film society on campus and ran it for four years. While at the U of A, I studied with the master black and white photo essayist W. Eugene Smith (1918-1978) the last year of his life. I am the last person cited in Jim Hughes' definitive biography of Gene, as I wrote about attending his final class days before his death.

I still consider myself an amateur photographer as almost all my work displayed here has been self assignments. After graduating from an announcing school in Minneapolis in 1964 I began employment as a news anchorman/booth announcer/writer/still photographer, at the now defunct KXAB TV in Aberdeen, South Dakota, without having taken a journalism course or ever have taken a photograph. (I bluffed my way into the job.) Being essentially my own boss of a one man news team, I could repeatedly blunder and bury my numerous mistakes. There I began my thematic, photo essays as stories for broadcast in black and white slide form. I found photography much more rewarding than being a media celebrity.

After an abortive try at the Peace Corps I landed at KVOA TV in Tucson, Arizona in April 1967 as a news editor/cinematographer. I continued with the photo essays now shot on negative film, and printed/ rephotographed with 16mm film. My only on air appearances were when I did "stand-uppers" or interviews.

Since then I have spent decades as a teacher of arts related subjects (acting, film making/history, creative writing, art history, literature and photography, English, etc.) in various community colleges, universities and prison facilities in Arizona.

My images, with the captions and descriptions, speak for themselves. I am presently building a website (vanishingamericanwest.com) which will feature my photo essays and short films.

My photo essays are in numerous archives/museums in the US and Europe. I am the only living photographer who has his own archive at the University of Arizona Special Collections Library in Tucson.

My prize winning short films/videos have been screened at festivals in Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Japan. Malta and Spain; and on many US cable systems.

Since 1994 I have lived in an adobe house in Casa Grande, Arizona.


Coca-Cola through the decades




Most popular

Photographers and cinematographers

Tombstone Arizona


Adolf Hitler cars sold at an auction held in a circus tent in Scottsdale Arizona in 1973

Vietnam Green Beret medic author composer singer Barry Sadler

Humphrey Bogart homage

1972 Democratic National Convention Miami Beach Florida

My best images



Mavericks and renegades

Pancho Villa and the Mexican revolution 1910-1920

A mosaic of Ted DeGrazia'a art and Arizona's history

Film Noir homage

Pariotism Then

Patriotism Now

South Dakota


John Wayne homages

Johnny Cash