top of page

April 9, 2024

AMA’s Josh Valcarcel “ignites” audience with lessons learned from his view through the camera lens

An Analytical Mechanics Associates (AMA) award-winning photographer takes the spotlight at Carnegie Mellon’s February 24, 2024, TEDx Talk.

“Imagine traveling back in time, and you have the unique opportunity to document the Apollo crew as they prepare to embark on a journey to the moon. Picture yourself, camera in hand, capturing the moments that would soon become iconic, woven into the very fabric of human history. Now, fast forward to today, this scenario isn't too far from my reality as a NASA photographer.


My role has placed me in a position that mirrors the awe-inspiring responsibility of those who documented the Apollo missions.”


In this vein, Josh Valcarcel, an AMA scientific photographer currently working in the Imagery Acquisition Group at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, began his TEDx presentation at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), or TEDxCMU. The February event’s theme was “Ignite” and showcased several professionals in the arts, business, and advocacy spaces. Valcarcel was invited to deliver a talk detailing his photography experiences at NASA and other aspects of his career. The invitation came from CMU’s independently organized TEDx event speaker curation team.   












Enterprises, provides support to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) and the Office of Communications (OCOMM) under the Enterprise Multimedia and Integrated Technical Services (eMITS) contract. AMA combines the best of engineering, science, and mathematics capabilities with the latest in analytics, information technology, and visualization to build innovative solutions. For more information on Analytical Mechanics Associates, please visit

With Valcarcel’s expansive body of work both prior to and during his time with NASA, it is easy to understand why CMU’s TEDx team showed an interest. Valcarcel received attention in 2023 for his portrait of the ARTEMIS II astronauts in a feature published by Petapixel, a leading platform covering the world of photography. He uses an Instagram account to give us an insider’s perspective of his work, and NASA often uses his photography in the agency’s social media campaigns.


After accepting the invitation, Valcarcel fleshed out a variety of ideas, ultimately choosing to focus on his unique perspective toward documenting history. He shared several defining photos involving both the ARTEMIS I and II missions and what it took to capture them. The photos had to be both acceptable to him as an artist and in accordance with NASA’s needs.


Most of us now recognize the images Valcarcel chose to share. Thanks to TEDx CMU, the stories about how he captured each image are now woven into the history of the mission, too. His recounting highlights not just the technical hurdles and the teamwork required to successfully obtain the photos, but also, as Valcarcel states, “…the profound impact of contributing to a mission that pushes us all to reach beyond our known limits.” 


While his presentation focused on what it is like to document history, Valcarcel took the opportunity to also direct the audience to follow in his footsteps by dreaming big in work and in life. He believes reaching for our passions is what ignites us and can lead us to extraordinary places and experiences.

The depth and breadth of Valcarcel’s talent, experience, and ability to successfully navigate differing environments and challenges is consistent. He has placed first, second, or third place in a variety of categories in NASA’s Photographer of the Year and Videographer of the Year since the inception of both awards. AMA is proud to share Valcarcel’s accolades and his ability to inspire others to explore their own passions and possibilities.


To access the talk, visit TEDx CMU on YouTube, to see more photos visit NASA’s image archive

About Analytical Mechanics Associates (AMA): 

Since 1962, AMA has worked with government and commercial organizations solving tough engineering, science, math, and business problems. AMA, a sub-contractor to ROAR

“And if you're not sure what you’re passionate about, explore and try new things – it's the act of reaching that shapes who we are.” – Josh Valcarcel

Josh Valcarcel speaks to three history-making images he took for NASA’s ARTEMIS I and II missions at a TEDx Talk at Carnegie Mellon University on February 24, 2024.

bottom of page