Adjunct Professor/Photo Director
Light, curator of the Photojournalism Center at the School, is the author of 8 monographs including Texas Death Row.
Witness in Our Time traces the recent history of social documentary photography in the words of twenty-nine of the genre's best photographers, editors, and curators, showing how the profession remains vital, innovative, and committed to social change. The second edition includes a new section of interviews on documentary photography in the field and an exploration of the role of photojournalism in 21st-century media. Witness in Our Time provides an insider's view of a profession that continues to confront questions of art and truth while extending the definitions of both.
Ken Light and his camera were permitted unparalleled access to Texas Death Row. His stark, powerful images show where and how the condemned live. In the year he took these pictures, fourteen men were executed in Texas.
Suzanne Donovan's accompanying essay, "Shadow Figures: A Portrait of Life on the Row," draws upon her interviews with the condemned men and with prison authorities, family members, and members of victims' families
Whoever opens this book will want to look away, for the pictures and words force us to gaze intimately into the eye of death.
"America's coal industry remains a laboratory test for 'free market' capitalism and government's efforts to control it. The people who live in it, as captured here in words and pictures by Ken and Melanie Light, are obstinate, wounded, witty, profane, and definatly human." - John Sayles, Independent Filmmaker"
Light's duotones of Mississippi provides a strong blend of artistic talent and documentary photography, depicting black cotton workers and field laborers' homes in the rural Delta region. The ultimate result is to portray how little the poverty of the region has changed in the past three decades: his works are gripping, indeed. -- Midwest Book Review
"Ken Lights images of workers reveal a compassionate concern for people that places them in the tradition of the socially motivated photographs of Lewis Hine and Dorothea Lange." Walter Rosenblum & Naomi Rosenblum With an introduction by Cesar Chavez and text by Paula DiPerna.
To The Promised Land gives an intimate view of a situation of enormous and often tragic proportions. The photographic portraits and reportage of the long dangerous journey from Mexico to the United States in photographs and is supported by a brilliant essay by Richard Rodriquez. The images take us from rural Mexico to the U.S.-Mexican Border and finally to the communities of Southern California, where these undocumented immigrants try to create a new life.
In Valley of Shadows and Dreams Ken & Melanie Light (writer) dig deep into the harsh truths of farm workers' daily experience, revealing a deep sense of anger and betrayal toward the destructive legacies of politics, bureaucracy, and control.
The Lights show us once-viable farmland transformed into neighborhoods full of empty tract homes that no workers can afford. We are confonted head-on with the devastating results of foreclosure. We stand in the Community Center food line in Mendota, we slip magically onto a midnight dance floor with migrant workers in Tulare, and we sail out across the San Joaquin River on a rope swing.
- Inspiration from Photographer Jacob Riis (PhotoWings - June 19, 2012)
- The Vanishing Valley (The New York Times - May 19, 2012)
- Creators Across America (Copyright Alliance - Nov. 8, 2010)
- What Is The Power of A Photo (KALW 91.7 FM - Aug. 17, 2010)
- From Organizer To Photographer (Public Presentation - Aug. 1, 2010)
- Ken Light Talks About Sebastiao Salgado's Work (KQED-TV - Oct. 26, 2009)
- The Valley of Shadows (Newsweek.com - Aug. 23, 2009)
- Coal Hollow (Digital Journalist: A Multimedia Magazine for Photojournalism - May 12, 2006)
- Tell It On the Mountain (Salon.com - March 23, 2006)
A story by UC Berkeley Media Relations about the three weeks Ken Light spent this summer working on his extended documentary project in West Virginia on the coal industry. Some of the photographs were on exhibit in the school's North Gate Gallery in April 2002. Read more...
Ken Light, the director of UCB's Center for Photography, talks in detail about three of Sebastião Salgados photographs from the "Then and Now" exhibition at the David Brower Center, which runs May 14, 2009 through January 31, 2010. Produced by SPARK for This Week in Northern California. Read more...