A rainbow is visible along the San Gorgonio Wind Park near Palm Springs in 2008. (photo by Sandy Huffaker)


By John Gregory

Sandy Huffaker is a photojournalist in the classic sense. He thrives on being in the midst of the action. Every shot he takes tells a story – even his portraits. One cannot comprehend the scope of his talent until viewing images in his impressive online portfolio at www.sandyhuffakerjr.com.

He has photographed tragedies, world leaders, historic events, politicians, celebrities, street life, happy moments and everyday events. He’s done it all, yet he remains humble.

Huffaker once tried to take after his father who was a cartoonist for Sports Illustrated and Time magazine, but “I didn’t quite have the talent,” he said.

But he did have some Christmas money while in high school, and he used it to buy a camera. He became the editor of his high school yearbook. Huffaker took his newfound interest to Pratt Institute in New York where he studied photography. While there, he started shooting black and white print film and set up a darkroom in his bathroom.

“It was very expensive. I could only afford about two rolls a week. I’d walk around the streets of New York doing street photography. Every shot had to count,” he said. “New York was kind of like boot camp for photographers. You’d get screamed at, chased, but it really developed my love for it. … lots of people out on the streets – interesting characters.”

After graduation, Huffaker set out for Seattle in 1991, but stopped in San Diego first. He never left. 

First, Huffaker shot photos for Umbrella magazine, a highly creative avant garde publication. Then he began accepting assignments for The San Diego Reader on a regular basis. He began shooting for the North County Times and then took on about nine assignments per week for The San Diego Union-Tribune. That led to freelance work for The New York Times and he became one of the first photographers for the Getty Images photo agency. He has also taken shots for the Associated Press.

“It’s grown from there. Now it’s grown into a lot of corporate work, a lot of magazine work,” Huffaker said. “I just did a job for Men’s Health.”

‘Tonight Show’ host Jay Leno stands in his auto garage in Burbank in 2013. (photo by Sandy Huffaker)
A street musician sings while at a Mariscos stand in Tijuana in 2008. (photo by Sandy Huffaker)
Firefighters battle the Lilac Fire in Bonsall in December 2017. The fire burned more than 3,000 acres and more than 1,000 homes had to evacuate. (photo by Sandy Huffaker)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump shakes hands with supporters in San Diego during a rally in May 2016. (photo by Sandy Huffaker)