People can be drawn to see social issues in America through the images and witness of the photographer. I have spent over five decades trying to do this with my camera, working on in-depth visual reportage.
The photographer’s voice is small but important. It is through our photographs that we can inform and participate in the conversations that have helped to create social change and affect the direction of America and its people. Think of Jacob Riis, Lewis Hine, Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks, W. Eugene Smith, Robert Frank, and others whose photographs have continued to tell the American story.
I share these artists’ passion for shedding light on unseen communities and unreported stories. If we would leave this narrative only to historians or corporations, our vision of our time would be far from the truth.
Now more than ever we rely on independent photographers to record and share our concerns, and to ask viewers to see the world with open eyes. As more people become marginalized, we especially need to look deeply at our country and question those things hidden from our view. — Ken Light
Ken Light is the Reva and David Logan Professor of Photojournalism at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. His work has appeared in over 200 exhibitions and is held in numerous permanent collections, including those of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, International Center of Photography, and the Smithsonian. He has published nine books of photographs, including What’s Going On? 1969-1974; Coal Hollow; Delta Time: Mississippi Photographs; To the Promised Land; and Texas Death Row. Light was the first photographer appointed as the Laventhol Visiting Professor at Columbia Journalism School.
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