Ken Light is a social documentaryÂ photographer in the classic sense,Â shooting exclusively black-andwhiteÂ film. He photographs peopleÂ who otherwise would never beÂ seen or heard. You might think Ken is aÂ dinosaur in a digital world, but in fact, he isÂ a professor in the University of California atÂ Berkeley’s cutting-edge graduate photojournalismÂ program.
Light’s latest book, Valley of Shadows andÂ Dreams, will be published in 2012 by Heyday.Â Many college photojournalism programs useÂ his book Witness in Our Time: The WorkingÂ Lives of Documentary Photographers (Smithsonian Press, 2000; second edition,Â 2010). His other books include Coal Hollow (University of California Press, 2006), Texas Death Row (UniversityÂ Press of Mississippi, 1997), Delta Time (Smithsonian InstitutionÂ Press, 1995), To the Promised Land (Aperture, 1988) and WithÂ These Hands (The Pilgrim Press, 1988).
In addition to these monographs, Light’s photographs haveÂ been published in more than 40 other books. His pictures haveÂ been exhibited at over 190 national and international venues, likeÂ the International Center of Photography, San Francisco Museum ofÂ Modern Art and Visa Pour L’Image in Perpignan, France. His photographsÂ are in museum collections in Switzerland, The Library ofÂ Congress and 30 other museums across the U.S.
It takes a 14-page CV to enumerate Ken Light’s books,Â exhibits, documentary films, grants andÂ awards, TV appearances, catalogues andÂ magazine articles. Yet, he’s a mild-mannered,Â easygoing fellow with a great senseÂ of humor; the kind of guy you’d like toÂ have as your next-door neighbor.
More of this article can be read in the Summer 2011 issue.