Aiah Tomboy from Professor Kaplan's Surviving Torture exhibition.


Professor John Kaplan teaches photography, design and international journalism to undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Florida. He leads the "Florida FlyIns" program, an advanced international course for photographers and writers. Students in the St. Petersburg Times’ sponsored program have traveled to Costa Rica, Belize, Peru and Brazil for fieldwork. Kaplan is an affiliate faculty member of the university’s Center for Latin American Studies and of the School of Natural Resources and Environment.

In 2002, Kaplan was named College of Journalism and Communications Teacher of the Year. His teaching efforts were recognized as the second place national winner in the 2001 AEJMC Promising Professors Competition.

The reputation of the student photography program at Florida is considered to be among the nation’s finest, according to News Photographer magazine. In 2002 and 2001, UF photojournalists won what is considered to be the Pulitzer Prize of collegiate journalism, the William Randolph Hearst national championship. Along with colleague, Professor John Freeman, Kaplan was instrumental in the teaching, editing and coaching of the winning work. Students Rob Witzel and Michael Tercha were also named individual championship national winners in 2002 and 2001.

Student work produced in Peru placed first nationally in web division of the international Best of Photojournalism competition.

Kaplan's former students have won the Pulitzer Prize and College Photographer of the Year. In addition to his duties at the University of Florida, Kaplan has lectured and taught at more than 50 colleges, workshops and seminars in the U.S., Asia, United Kingdom and Latin America.

Learn about the UF photo program:

Learn about the Florida FlyIns international program abroad:


Kaplan’s research interests include the visual exploration of civil rights movements, both in America and abroad, as well as the study of fading indigenous cultures and ethnic minority groups. As a social documentary photographer, he exhibits worldwide and has created three solo exhibitions, Four Nations, Vanishing Heritage and Surviving Torture. He is also a participant in several juried international group exhibitions, including Eyes of History: 55 Years of Pulitzer Prize Photographs as well as the Moments of Intimacy, Laughter and Kinship exhibit. His written research includes a sole-authored visual communications book of original research, and the publication of articles in national and international visual communications and journalism history journals.

Kaplan's research and creative activities have been recognized with several national honors including the Overseas Press Club Award for Feature Photography and recognition from the Robert F. Kennedy Foundation.

The website that Professor Kaplan created about the civil rights photography of Charles Moore won the Award of Excellence best of show in AEJMC Best of the Web competition. He has also created, along with his students, a website to showcase UF international student journalism, www.internationaljournalism.com and another to promote photojournalism and design studies, www.floridaphotojournalism.com. The websites have received first-place national awards in AEJMC and Best of Photojournalism competitions.


Professor Kaplan is a member of the Accrediting Council in Education and Mass Communications (ACEJMC), the organization responsible for the evaluation of college journalism and mass communications programs. At the University of Florida, he has been a participant in a committee to evaluate university-wide Fulbright scholar grant applications by doctoral, master’s and undergraduate applicants. Kaplan has twice served as a juror for the Pulitzer Prizes and has also judged more than 50 photography contests, festivals and awards programs.

John Kaplan biography:

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