Cira Crowell (M.A. SCAD) is a photographer and artist whose work spans conceptual, adventure, landscape, cultural, documentary and humanitarian themes. Her passion for black and white photography began thirty years ago with her grandfather’s Leicaflex SL2 film camera and darkroom work. She still uses many of the same forty-year-old lenses in her current digital workflow.

Cira travels the world capturing evocative incidents of life and light to share in books, shows, talks and online. Her journeys include Nepal, Bhutan, India, Japan, Germany, and Iceland. Her adventures include over 1,000 miles on foot in the Himalayas, as well as summiting Mt. Rainier, Mt. Fuji, and Cholatse, a technical, 21,130ft/6,446m peak in the Everest region of Nepal. When not abroad, she teaches close to home at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops.

As a response to the need for social-impact-oriented storytelling, Cira founded InLightWorks Productions, a multi-media company shining the light of inspiration through arts+adventure+awareness. One of the first major projects of InLightWorks is “Dream Mountain,” a documentary film about the inspiring mother and elite mountaineer, Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita. Dream Mountain won the distinction of “Best Mountain Film” at the 2020 London Mountain Film Festival, has been an official selection of six top tier International Alliance for Mountain Film festivals (Krakow, Trento, New Zealand, Graz, Autrans and Kathmandu) and the honor of Banff Mountainfilm Festival World Tour 2021/2022.

Exhibitions combining Cira’s photography, new media drawings, and projected animations include “Luminous Everest” for Mountainfilm Savannah on Tour, “InLight” at Robert Berman Gallery, Santa Monica and “Envisioning Ecstasy” at Tibet House: US, New York and “Broad Strokes” at Leica Gallery LA. Her books, Beautiful Resilience: The Enduring Spirit of Upper Gorkha Nepal, Envisioning Ecstasy, and 108 Visions: Ladakh During the Kalachakra have been used to raise awareness, supporting a number of humanitarian projects including Nomads Clinic and Tibet House US and Little Suns.

Cira lives and creates in Los Angeles, Santa Fe and beyond.


Above photograph in Ladakh, India by Christopher P. Michel

  • Selected: “Dream Mountain” has been an offical selection of six top tier International Alliance for Mountain Film festivals (Krakow, Trento, New Zealand, Graz, Autrans and Kathmandu)
  • Teaching: THE LANGUAGE OF BLACK AND WHITE, Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, July 2021
  • Presenting: ASMP/NM: Project Spotlight: “The Making of Dream Mountain” March 10, 2021
  • Teaching: THE LANGUAGE OF BLACK AND WHITE, Santa Fe Photographic Workshops Online, https://santafeworkshops.com/workshop/the-language-of-black-and-white_4-2/
  • Summit: Cholatse (6,446m/21,130ft) Khumbu, Nepal
  • Executive Producer, Expedition Photographer, Summiteer: Dream Mountain film. To find out more: Instagram: Dream Mountain
  • Interview: GearPatrol/Leica Camera: “How One Photographer Finds Her Light From New Mexico To Mount Everest” GearPatrol/Leica:CiraCrowell
  • Founder: InLightWorks Productions, LLC – a multi-media company sharing the light of inspiration through arts+adventure+awareness.  InLightWorks
  • Teaching: THE LANGUAGE OF BLACK AND WHITE, Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, July 21-26, 2019 SantaFePhotographicWorkshops:TheLanguageOfBlackAndWhite2019
  • Event: An Evening at IbuMovement Charleston: Sharing stories of friendship and photography in the Himalayas, read more here.
  • Show: Luminous Everest, Twelve large scale prints of Everest and other images to benefit Mountainfilm On Tour/Savannah, January 24-February 2, 2019,
  • Book Release: “Luminous Everest” A hand-bound special edition book of Everest images benefitting Mountainfilm On Tour/Savannah.
  • Interview: Leica Fotografie International: “Luminous Everest” read it here.
  • Images Featured on Leica Camera Leica SL website
  • Public Talk: Leica Seminar – Palm Springs Photo Festival: Cira Crowell: Nepal Illuminated: New Technology in the High Himalaya
  • Member: Association of Media Photographers ASMPMember:CiraCrowell
  • Interview: The Leica Camera Blog: Nepal Illuminated: read it here.
  • Travels in Japan, Germany, Nepal and Bhutan
  • Nomads Clinic: 175 mile trek on foot photographing medical mission treating 1,200 villages in Dolpo (Mugu and Jumla), Nepal
  • Exhibit: Mysterious Himalaya: Impressions of Dolpo, May 19 – June 30th, Frankfurt, Germany. Benefitting the Dolpo Tulku Charitable Trust
  • Work included in book Selection of Excellence: Leica Meet 2016
  • Interview: Leica Meet Founder and Photographer Olaf Willoughby: Working and Serving in the Himalayas
  • Photographed and attended the 34th Kalachakra Ceremony, Bodh Gaya, India
  • Travels in Japan, Germany and Nepal
  • Nomads Clinic: 125 mile trek on foot photographing medical mission treating 1,200 villagers in Dolpo, Jumla and Mugu Districts, Nepal
  • Trek to Everest Base Camp Solu-Khumbu, Nepal
  • Nomads Clinic: 150-mile trek on foot photographing medical mission treating 900 villagers in Dolpo District, Nepal
  • Exhibit and Book Launch: “Envisioning Ecstasy” at Tibet House New York, May 20-June 26, 2015
  • Book Release: 108 Visions: Ladakh During the Kalachakra, designed by Michael Motley, In Light Arts
  • Book Launch: Beautiful Resilience: The Enduring Spirit of Upper Gorkha Nepal, a Discussion with Designer Michael Motley and Photographer Cira Crowell at Collected Works Bookstore, Santa Fe, July 29, 2015
  • Book Release: Envisioning Ecstasy, Catalog for Tibet House New York Show
  • Book Release: Beautiful Resilience: The Enduring Spirit of Upper Gorkha Nepal to benefit earthquake rebuilding in Nepal
  • Nomads Clinic: 150 mile trek on foot as photographing medical mission treating 800 villagers in Dolpo District, Nepal
  • Leica LA: Coffee, Cameras and Conversation with Cira Crowell, “Sharing the Light,” August 9, 2015
  • Travels through Japan
  • Summited Mt. Fuji, Japan
  • THE Magazine, Santa Fe, May, International Spotlight, page 43.
  • Photographed and attended the 33rd Kalachakra Ceremony, Ladakh, India
  • Travels in Rajasthan, India
  • Travels in Iceland
  • Summited Mt. Rainier (14,495ft) Washington, United States
  • Nomads Clinic: 200 mile trek on foot as photographing medical mission treating 800 villagers in Gorkha District, Nepal
  • Show: Currents 2013: “New Media Festival” (aluminum, optical glass sculpture in collaboration with Chas Curtis) Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Travels through Japan
  • Travels through Bhutan
  • Solo Show: Robert Berman Gallery (EXTENDED: October 13 – December 22): “In Light” (drawing, lumenography, photography, projected animation) Santa Monica, California
  • Show: Currents 2012: “New Media Festival” (projected animation) Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Show: Orange County Center for Contemporary Art: “Random Acts of Time” (projected animation) Santa Ana, California
  • Show: Linus Gallery: “Lonely Planet,” (photography) Pasadena, California
  • Show: William Turner Gallery/Pacific Standard Time: “Ed’s Party: Spheres of Influence” (drawing)  Santa Monica, California
  • 2007-2015 Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Board of Directors and National Council
  • Show: Currents 2010 : “New Media Festival” (projected animation) Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Article: “Innovators ’09 : The Illuminated Artist,” Brand X, Los Angeles Times, June 17I
  • Show: Currents 2009: “New Media Festival” (projected animation) Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Show: Red Dot Art Fair, Art/Basel Miami, represented by Eileen Braziel Fine Art (projected animation)
  • Show: Eileen Braziel Fine Art: “Fall Show” (projected animation) Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Show: Eileen Braziel Fine Art: “Summer Show” (projected animation) Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Show: Crowell Gallerie Atelier: “New Works” (painting) January 2006 Charleston, South Carolina
  • Show: Crowell Gallerie Atelier: “The Hundred” (painting) May 2005, Charleston, South Carolina
  • Show: Crowell Gallerie Atelie: “Back to Nature” (painting) September 2004 Charleston, South Carolina
  • Show: Crowell Gallerie Atelier: “Pop” (painting) May 2003, Charleston, South Carolina
  • Solo Show: River Oaks Arts Center, (painting) May 2003, Alexandria, Louisiana
  • 1999: Savannah College of Art and Design Graduate Design Award
  • 1999: MA Savannah College of Art and Design
  • 1995: BA Rhodes College


Leica Women Foto Project/Her Legacy

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February 10, 2020

Gear Patrol + Leica

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January 22, 2020

Santa Fe Reporter

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December 15, 2020

Leica Fotografie International: Luminous Everest

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December 25, 2018

Leica Camera Blog: Nepal Illuminated

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January 29, 2018

The Travel Photographer

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December 15, 2018

Leica Camera Blog: Broad Strokes at Leica Gallery LA

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August 12, 2016

Leica Camera Blog: Surf Lotus

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July 4, 2016

Leica Camera Blog: Envisioning Ecstasy Show

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April 7, 2016

John Paul Caponigro : Blog

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May 20, 2015

THE Magazine: International Spotlight THE Magazine: International Spotlight

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May 14, 2015

Santa Fean - Art Profile

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July 1, 2013

Huffington Post

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Huffington Post spotlight about In Light exhibit at the Robert Berman Gallery, 2012.
December 7, 2012


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Innovators - Artist Profile - 2009
September 10, 2009


Q. Why Light?

A. Light is many things, from the physical to the spiritual to the symbolic. Visible light surrounds us every day, we rely on it to grow food and are only just beginning to harness it's energy. We are also surrounded by idioretinal or inner light, for example in dreams. This mindspace light is so familiar we barely notice it. My life's work explores light in all it's degrees, from starlight to brightness of spirit... the infinite interconnections of light and life.

Q. Why black and white?

A. White equals Light and Energy. Black equals Space and Stillness.

Q. What are the marks?

A. The marks are a universal non-language in accord with the fractal scalability of the universe. They are meaning beyond meaning - all and no meaning. The glyphs represent many things - filaments of the quantum particles of String Theory, photons of light, molecules of water in clouds, refractions in shallow water, glimmers on ocean waves, white birds in flight, stars in the heavens... In symbolic terms they are both numeric and alphabetic, scientific notation and digital code. Occasionally words are embedded as inspiration strikes. The marks on each drawing and animation are unplanned and completely unique to that image. They are pure energy off the pen tip.

Q. Why do you say the images are minimalist?

A. The tools are irreducible and nothing is added to the original inspiration. I use the most basic, default 10 point mark in Photoshop. It is the equivalent of a digital yellow pencil. Nothing fancy. There is a lushness to less... From the aesthetic timeline of art history the images are an outgrowth of the work of Agnes Martin's grids, Jay DeFeo's monumental painting, The Rose, and the early charcoals of Georgia O'Keeffe. As an outgrowth, the work could begin to be categorized under the umbrella of neo-minimalism, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-minimalism.

Q. Would you say the drawings are abstract?

A. Definitely not. The drawings are very precise representations of mindspace inspirations, light in the subtle conscious. There is nothing accidental. The inspirations are quite clear and concrete and I draw directly from memory without embellishing or editing. I believe that we are only as conscious as we allow ourselves to be. It is a matter of learning to pay attention to deeper intuitions and images in the subtle-conscious mindspace.

Q. These look fractal. Are they?

A. They are scalable and directly reference everything from the microcosm to the macrocosm, from photons to constellations.

Q. Why do you create poems, drawings, photographs and animations?

A. People relate to different media. Usually the first inspiration is the drawing and I often don't know what it's about. While drawing, words arise and a simple poem forms in my mind. Studying the behavior of light through photography has a poignant relation to the work. The original inspirations move in my mind so the animations are active drawings. No other medium could capture the light and narrative motion. I have a regular drawing practice, producing about two new stills a week. Then I select images for animation and develop several new animations a year.

Q. How are they related to science?

A. The images are synchronistically related to science. I don't set out to create scientific illustrations. By their fractal nature all the images are related to chaos and complexity theories. A similar example of patterned scalability is http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/george_smoot_on_the_design_of_the_universe.html. They are also illustrative of manifold geometry theorized in the 5th Dimension and higher of String Theory. An example of the behavior of manifold geometry is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Calabi-yau7.gif.

Q. How are they related to spirituality?

A. Light has always been literally and figuratively related to the Sublime. From monotheism to transcendentalism, from East to West, ancient beliefs to metaphysics, Light is a remarkably universal fascination of humankind. Perhaps Light is our original, all-pervasive, transcending, timeless experience.

Q. How does your fine art relate to your humanitarian work?

A. Balancing conceptual art with compassionate work is a true experience of the communicative power of art. I use the same tools to share inner mind visions as I do to share poignant stories in our remarkable world. Three of my four books and the show at Tibet House US benefit others by fundraising for carefully vetted charities. It is a matter of making the unseen seen...