What Wyden is all about and why a Pen Name

Steven Mark WydenVery often I am asked why I use Wyden in my photography name when my last name is Kivowitz.  In this post I am going to share something very personal.

My story

My biological father, Steven Mark Wyden, passed away from liver disease when I was two years old.  I never had a chance to know him.  Whenever I am with my family there is always someone who tells me that I remind them of my father.  I grew up surrounded by music because that is what I wanted to do with my life.  Of course, since high school, things have changed a bit.  My father was always into music.  In fact, I eventually fell in love with music from Johnny Cash.  As it turns out, my father did too.  There are so many musical similarities that remind my family of my father.

My first camera was an old Fiji SLR that was once my father’s.  He got his photography passion and skills from his father.  See the chain going on here?  When I decided to change majors and pursue photography in college, my grandfather handed me my father’s Nikon gear.  At that point my life had changed.  I went from a crummy (but meaningful) Fuji to a solid photographic machine.

My mother remarried and my step-father helped my mother raise my older brother and I, and eventually my younger brother.  So this is where the last name Kivowitz came in to the picture.

My Reason

So my reasoning for using Wyden is very meaningful.  I use Wyden because of where my passion of photography came from.  I use Wyden to honor my biological father.  I use Wyden to remember him and pay tribute to who he was.  I use Wyden because I love him and wish I could go out and take pictures with him, and of him.

Past posts

On March 2, 2009 I wrote about my tattoos.  One of which is my biological father’s initials.  On October, 23, 2008 I shared a story about how I almost died and how I feel my father was watching over me.  On April 20, 2009 I shared a photograph that my older brother found.  The photo that you see above.

Who else?

I know there are so many other photographers in the world that use a “pen name”. One I know of is Thomas Hawk. In an interview from Scott Baradell on Blackstar.com, Thomas Hawk talks about why he uses a “pen name”.  Read the full interview at Blackstar.com.

Scott: Why the pseudonym? Can you discuss your decision to go with a pen name in the context of the emphasis on transparency in the Web 2.0 world?

Tom: I use a pseudonym because I have a day job in the investment business (in a non technology related field). Because the investment industry is highly regulated and because if I used my real name I would have to have my boss review everything that I write, I have chosen to blog under a pseudonym. Many people know my real name and it’s something that I openly share with friends. I state that I’m blogging under a pseudonym publicly on my blog and it is the only pseudonym I use. I don’t particularly hide my identity (anyone can do a “who is” search) and if I were ever to leave the investment business I would be more open about my identity. I feel that I’m pretty transparent about my situation and have found most people accepting of that. My salary at Zooomr is $0 as we try and build it out so I still need to pay the bills somehow.

Your story

Are you using a “pen name”?  Please share your story by commenting below. If you want, write it on your blog and share a link to your site.

Thanks for reading and happy shooting,

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. No so much as a pen name as a bizarre twist. My real name is Daniel – thus the 'D.' But I have traditionally gone by my middle name. When it comes to the professional world, I spell out my whole name as "D. Travis North" to avoid some confusion as all my identifications read "Daniel T. North". But most people refer to me as Travis.

  2. Thanks for sharing! I have always wondered what the D. stood for. Now I know! I won't tell though. ;-)

  3. I sort of use a pen name. I use my middle name as my last name- Angie Candell, rather than Angie Poag. I've always liked my middle name better, and the A & the C work really well together in a monogram as a double story 'a'

  4. Thanks for sharing Angie! I think Angie Candell flows very well

  5. Thanks for having the courage to share such intimate details of your life so honestly. I did get a little choked up when you said your grandfather gave you your dad's gear. I knew and loved my mom and lost her almost a decade years ago…whew…now I am really getting choked up…so I understand that type of loss, though I was fortunate to have 21 years with her and I understand you were not.

    God bless you.

    I don't use a pen name…I just go by my first name only, Trudy, or my web nicknames thetrudz or the czar (old nickname from Myspace days).

  6. Thank you very much Trudy. I appreciate your comments. Sorry about your mother as well. It really is hard but it's life I suppose.

  7. Scott,

    Thanks for sharing. I enjoy hearing peoples stories about how photography came to be in their life. In 2009, I lost my grandfather whom I was very close to. When we met the celebrant to talked about his life, I found out he was into photography at one point. In fact, when the Thresher submarine went down he was the only one who got a photo of it. When he was alive, I would show him my work but he didn't understand as he dealing with alzheimers and cancer which ultimately took his life. My passion for photography keeps me going through my grandfather who I know is watching over me and is in my heart. I think about him all the time and wonder what he would think of my work.

    I don't use a pen name but many people think my name is nolan from my twitter name and photography web address – "nolanstern." The name derives from nolan being my wife's maiden name and stern is my last name. I wanted something which combines both of our last names which represent us and our love for one another.

  8. That is very touching Chris. Do you have his photo of the submarine?

  9. This has been a moving read. I never really thought about it before, but thanks to my father and his love for taking pictures of us (My familyand I), as a kid I got the chance to play with his camera when he wasnt looking and fall in love with the magic of capturing light. Back when film was used (lol) My mother always loved the surprize of finding pictures of nature, or post cards as she called them, in with the family outing pictures. Thanks for that. I am growing more and more in the world of photography and came across this blog because I am interested in using a pen name (pseudonym) for my work instead of my full name. My worries are the legalities of doing so and dangers of copyright infringment. I have read that photos dont need to be registered and copyright goes to the photographer by default but how is this affected by branding or watermarking with a Nom De Plum (pen name)? Thanks for your blog its awesome that you carry your dad so close to you I appreciate you sharing.

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