We’ve become such a 24/7 moving world with a constant stream of news and sound and pictures,” writes Light. “And the wonderful thing of a still photograph is you get to linger, you get to stop, you get to look, you get to think, you get to react, and it is a very different experience.
Newsweek’s just published a brilliant and far-reaching investigation into California’s growing economic and water crises. The Valley of Shadows, a five-part series comprising wonderful photos by Ken Light, original reporting, interactive maps, and audio, is a great example of what most journalism might look like in a few year
After several months—or years—on the shelves of serious photographers, it’s time to take this volume down again and give it a look. For all of us who have complained about how tough things are now in these times—and who among us has not complained?—the voices in this book remind us photojournalism and documentary photography were never easy, not for those during photojournalism’s Golden Age, not even for those included in this book who are generally accepted as stars in the profession.
From The Digital Journalist (link to gallery at bottom of page):
Ken Light, who teaches photography at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, has five previous documentary books to his credit and also produced Witness In Our Time: Working Lives of Documentary Photographers (Smithsonian Press, October 2000). He prefers photographing with the medium format (but used 35mm for his book Texas Death Row, where he wanted the discretion and high film speed it allows). For Coal Hollow he used Mamiya 6s, a rangefinder camera with a 6 x 6 cm negative that handles like a Leica. Although working with an eye-level viewfinder, he often gets low with the camera, going eye-to-eye with a short dog or looking up at faces. His close-to-the-face portraits leave us no doubt that many of these people have had hard, damaging lives without decent medical care. All of the 82 duotones are full-square, and nearly fill their 11-inch square pages, allowing full appreciation of their rich tonality and detail. Some believe the square format is a difficult working space – the frame lacks a dominant direction, leaving a potential for static compositions. Ken is a master of the square composition and his images are alive with energy and dynamic interest. In addition to landscapes, signs, portraits, close-ups and environmentals, he records active situations including a tent revival and a wrestling match.