Ken Light

Reva & David Logan Professor of Photojournalism

Teaching Schedule - Fall 2017:

Course # Title Units Time Location
J213 Visual Storytelling: Advanced Documentary Projects-Blurb Book 3 M 10:00-12:00 B30

Ken Light has worked as a freelance documentary photographer for forty years, focusing on social issues facing America. His work has been published in eight books, including Delta Time, To The Promised Land, With These Hands, Texas Death Row, Coal Hollow and most recently Valley of Shadows and Dreams. He is also the author of the text Witness in Our Time: Lives of Working Documentary Photographers, now in its second edtion. His work has been in numerous photo essays in newspapers, magazines and a variety of media (electronic & motion pictures), like Rolling Stone, Granta, Time, Newsweek, Mother Jones, The National Journal, Speak, L'Internazionale and Camera Arts. His work has also been presented in exhibitions worldwide including a one person show at the International Center for Photography (NYC), the S.E. Museum of Photography, the San Jose Museum of Art, The Visual Studies, and Smith College Art Museum. He is an adjunct Professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at U.C. Berkeley and director of its Center for Photography. He is also a co-founder of Fotovision and the Mother Jones International Fund for Documentary Photography. His web site is


Witness In Our Time

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.

Texas Death Row

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.

Coal Hollow

"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"

Delta Time

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

With These Hands

"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

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.

Valley of Shadows & Dreams

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.

Published Work: