Ken LightKen Light

Ken Light is a social documentary photographer whose work has appeared in books, magazines, exhibitions and numerous anthologies, exhibition catalogues and a variety of media, digital and motion picture. His most recent book Valley of Shadows & Dreams (Heyday Book) was published in 2012. This work was published in the New York Times, Newsweek/Daily Beast, N.Y. Review of Books, Huffington Post Voces and this work was exhibited in one person shows at the Oakland Museum of California, Umbrage Gallery, Arte Americas and S.E. Museum of Photography.

His last book was  Coal Hollow (University of California Press)  and was published in 2005. This book presents arresting black and white photographs and powerful oral histories that chronicle the legacy of coalmining in southern West Virginia. His book, Texas Death Row (1997) is a look at life inside the death house as the condemned wait to be executed in Americas largest and most active Death Row. This work was published in Newsweek Magazine (6 pgs), Paris Match (France -- 8 pgs), Tempo (Germany -- 6 pgs), London Telegraph, Nieuwe Revu (Amsterdam -- 6 pgs) and in Japan, Korea, Holland, Denmark, Mexico, Spain, Italy as well as on Newsweek Online, and Online.

He is also the author of Delta Time published in 1995 by the Smithsonian Institution Press. This book looks at rural Black poverty, cotton and the southern landscape. Delta Time has 104 photographs and an essay by legendary civil rights organizer Bob Moses. This work has been published in VSD in Paris, Granta, the London Independent, Spanish Elle with Walker Evans and in the Academy Award nominated documentary film Freedom on My Mind.

His other books are To The Promised Land (Aperture 1988), With These Hands (Pilgrim Press 1986), and In the Fields (Harvest Press 1982), which examine the lives of farm workers and their journey from Mexico illegally to the United States and with an introduction by Cesear Chavez.

Ken Light got his start in 1969 photographing for alternative newspapers and magazines. His photographs from this period were widely published in posters, books and hundreds of periodicals.

A text, Witness In Our Time: The Lives of Social Documentary Photographers was published by the Smithsonian Institution Press in October 2000 and a 2nd edition was published in 2010 . It is in its fourth printing and has been adapted by numerous University and College documentary photo programs as well as being translated and published in Turkey. He has exhibited internationally in over 200 one-person and group shows, including one person shows at the International Center for Photography, Oakland Museum of California, San Jose Museum of Modern Art, Visual Studies Workshop, Visa pour L’image Perpignan (France), International Fotoage (Germany), S.E. Museum of Photography and Smith College. His work is part of numerous collections including the San Francisco MOMA, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the International Center of Photography and the American Museum of Art at the Smithsonian, Library of Congress, Helmut Gernsheim Collection and many others including private collections. He has received two National Endowment for the Arts Photographers Fellowships, a N.E.A survey and publication grant, the Dorothea Lange Fellowship and a fellowship from the Erna and Victor Hasselblad Foundation as well as grants from the Soros Open Society Institute, the American Film Institute, the California Arts Commission, International Fund for Concerned Photography, the Rosenberg Foundation and the Max and the Anna Levinson Foundation. Mr. Light's numerous other awards include the Media Alliance Meritorious Achievement award in photography, the Thomas More Storke International Journalism Award and Judges Special Recognition (Cannon Photo Essayist) in the  University of Missouri/NPPA Pictures of the Year competition.

He is a Professor and curator of the Center for Photography at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California Berkeley, and was the 2012 Laventhol Visiting Professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He has taught workshops at many school and photo festivals including at the ICP in New York City, The Missouri Photo Workshop, S.F. Art Institute and in the School for Photographic Studies in Prague and Baltimore. He was a founder of the Mother Jones International Fund for Documentary Photography, which awarded grants to photographers worldwide, as well as founder of Fotovision a non-profit documentary photo organization based in the San Francisco bay Area. His freelance work has been represented by J.B. Pictures, SABA Press Photos in New York. and he is currently represented by Contact Press Images in New York City.

More information on Ken Light can be found at the following Web sites:

UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism -- Center for Photography

California Watch CIR Video
New York Times
Newsweek/The Daily Beast online
Kenneth Baker-SF Chronicle
Voices/Huffington Post-spanish
San Francisco Chronicle Continuing the Documentary Tradition 

You may contact Mr. Light at