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