Prof.Ken Light Talks About ‘Photographing the Social Landscape of USA’

Prof.Ken Light Talks About ‘Photographing the Social Landscape of USA’



Images hold the profound power of creating conversation without words. The mind is a repository of images collected across the moments, and so is human evolution. Images educate and have the power to change the world. They are the chroniclers of a nation’s timeline and yes, frames the present. 


With an intent to establish a concerned photography culture right in the heart of India, Faculty of Journalism and Creative Studies, JagranLakecity University Organized a session on Thursday, 27th May, by Prof.Ken Light on the topic: ‘Travelling Across The United States of America and Photographing the Social Landscape.’

Prof Light is Guggenheim Fellow, Reva and David Logan Professor,  Curator, Centre for photography at Graduate school of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley.

During the session Prof. Light took the students through different corners of development of the concerned photography era.  He also shared the stories and ideation process involved while working on a particular project.  He shared the insightful work of the photographers like Jacob Riis, Lewis Hine, Dorthea Lange and many more who still continue to inspire him.


Prof.Light also discussed about his most recent book , ‘Course of the Empire (2021 Steidl)’ which began in 2011 when he traveled across the United States, photographing the country and highlighting an empire that he realized was the most fragile of organisms.

The session with 100 participants was concluded with an interesting Q&A session wherein, students and Prof. Light interacted joyfully and wasmoderated by Prof. Shraddha Bhargava, Member of Faculty of Journalism and Creative Studies.

Students learnt different nuances of the social documentary photography and its impact in changing a society. They asked whether he thinks that many photographers romanticize the idea of concerned photography on which he shared his views about how new generation is working hard on taking this genre of social documentary photography forward.

Notable Mentions By Professor Ken in the Webinar

* As a photographer he has spent over 50 years Photographing United States’ unseen problems much of the world unaware even his countrymen

* His recent project is the book, Course of the Empire’, which is an american life portrait around; power, health, militancy, money but increasing distance between different classes.

* Mentioned first photograph in the history i.e. 1826 taken by Joseph Niepce

* Briefed about other types of photography the Daguerretype 1839

* His work is influenced by Jacob Riis, early Danish immigrant who came to America, one of the early photographers of the social landscapes of US

* Lewis Hine – Father of social documentary photography, photographed arrival of immigrants in America also looked at the problems of child labor in America in the early 1900s.

* Paul Strand – who moved us into the modernist era of photography, wall street, beggar instrumental in how he became to see photography as a model

* Dorthea Lange- greatest social documentary photographer, best known for her work during the Great depression 1930, famous photograph migrant mother

* 1925 incredible invention Oscar Barrack’s camera, created Leika 1, first small 35 mm camera, allowed documentary photographer to go much deeper into the world.

* Helen Levitt – American street photographer

* Eugene Smith – great photo essayist

* Danny Lyon, photographed extensively the American civil rights movements in the 60s and also bike riders and many other documentary stories

* Bruce Davidson – 1970 east 100th street

* Joseph Kudelka, Gypsies

* Dianne Arbis

* Garry Winogrand, great street photographer

Witness in our time – include many social documentary photographer around the world Dayanita singh, sebastio salgado mary allen mark, graciela interbied and donno ferrado

* Midnight la frontera 1980 – work at night americam border and apprehension of people whob tried to illegally come to US


By: Faculty of Journalism and Creative Studies
JagranLakecity University


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