Determined to build his career in the arts, Michael Collopy spent his young adult days connecting with some of his most admired artists to explore work in various creative media. It was the mentorship and encouragement of Ansel Adams and Richard Avedon that motivated Collopy to focus on photography.
In the photo studio, Collopy finds his strength in forming natural, easy connections; his clients remember how quickly they relax under the influence of Collopy’s casual, dry wit. Olympic gold medalists, Grammy award-winning musicians, and international heads of state become fast, friendly acquaintances with Collopy as he creates their portraits.
Spending time with Ansel Adams inspired Collopy in important ways to continuously develop his technique and personal style, and to use the power of art to influence social change. Among those who prefer to be in the background, Collopy has been described as a whisperer, one who immediately puts his subjects at ease as he works quietly, clicking away. It is the humility and empathy with which he relates to his subjects that has earned Collopy the opportunity to photograph the world’s greatest peacemakers. His life work has found him on the streets of Calcutta capturing the tireless commitment of Mother Teresa and on Skid Row in Los Angeles documenting the transformation of gang members through Greg Boyle’s Homeboy Industries. He gives us a window into their souls and a sense of their potential impact on the world.
Collopy engages in projects that bring the work of peacemakers into focus. In 2000 he shared the wisdom and images collected while photographing pioneers, icons, artists, explorers, and activists throughout the world. Architects of Peace offers hope through the words of those dedicating their lives to the right fight, for humanity, sustainability, and equality. In his books we see Collopy’s natural way of drawing out the stories of others to share and inspire us.
Today, Collopy continues to deepen his commitment, courageously speaking about the process of peace making, venturing into curriculum development to address and encourage students to study peace and to act.
Awards and Honors
|2019||Recipient of The Junipero Serra Award-the highest alumni honor, for his passion to help others and spread world peace.|
|2018||Honored as commencement speaker at St. Mary’s College in 2018.|
|2016||Collopy’s Mother Teresa portrait was painted as the official Sainthood image at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. It was also the foundation of the official Sainthood Stamp.|
|2016||Time Magazine featured Collopy’s image of Mother Teresa as their Cover Photo for the 3rd time.|
|2014||Recipient of the Meritorious Service Alumni Award Winner from St. Mary’s College.|
|2009||Recipient of the Martin Luther King Peace Award from Stanford University.|
|2008||Founded the Architects of Peace Foundation- to inspire personal transformation and social change through illuminating the lives of world peace makers.|
|2007||Collaborated with Quincy Jones on his illustrated autobiography, The Complete Quincy Jones.|
|2001||Collopy’s portraits of the Nobel Peace Laureates formed the basis of the webpage The Peacemakers Speak. Critically acclaimed worldwide, the site was name one of the top 10 websites of the year by USA Today. It is now housed in the U.S. Library of Congress as part of their archive on 9/11.|
|1996||USA Today named Works of Love are Works of Peace a top coffee table book of the year.|