April 08, 2013

Ken Light is a social documentary photographer and professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley. Ken has worked on projects ranging in topics from death row to coal mining legacies. His most recent book, Valley of Shadows and Dreamswas a collaboration with his wife, Melanie Light, in which they “dig deep into the harsh truths of farm workers’ daily experiences in California’s Central Valley and take a hard look at the legacies of politics, bureaucracy and control in the region.” These photographs have been exhibited in solo shows including at the Oakland Museum of California and the S.E. Museum of Photography. Ken’s images are compelling and tell important social stories about our world.


Photo©Ken Light_2007


Another photojournalist that tells poignant stories is Darcy Padilla. A passionate photographer, Darcy has received multiple grants, fellowships and awards for her work. In particular, for her longterm exploration, “The Julie Project,” she received the W. Eugene Smith Grant for Humanistic Photography in 2010. Highlighted by the New York Times Lens Blog in 2010, this project is one of compassion and dedication. When Darcy first encountered the 19-year-old new mother, Julie Baird, in the lobby of a San Francisco hotel in 1993, a new relationship began. Darcy was committed to telling the story of this young woman who was infected with AIDS, plagued by drug addiction, had endured abusive relationships, and lived in severe poverty until her death in 2010. Still dedicated, Padilla seeks to continue the story by finding Julie’s five other children and raising money for their education. Padilla truly uses her photojournalistic talent to make positive change.


Photo©Darcy Padilla_1993


Ed Kashi (VII) is also committed to making a positive difference in our world. A wide variety of passions seem to culminate in a common theme of making a change for the better. Ed is quoted, “I take on issues that stir my passions about the state of humanity and our world, and I deeply believe in the power of still images to change people’s minds. I’m driven by this fact; that the work photojournalists and documentary photographers can have a positive impact on the world.” One project Ed is currently working on involves sugar cane workers in Nicaragua that are suffering from an epidemic of Chronic Kidney Disease of unknown cause (CKDu). The sugar cane company provides the families of sick workers with a food stipend that in many cases gets revoked if the workers or their families try to speak out on the situation. Along with the food stipend withholding, the families and workers are often faced with other threats and intimidating bribes to keep this issue quiet. However, Ed is working to help bring this issue to the forefront, allowing for community discussion and health initiatives to fight the epidemic. Over the past two decades more than ten thousand sugar cane workers in Central America alone have either died or are sick from this epidemic.


Photo©Ed Kashi/VII_2013


This summer at the CSU Summer Arts program the talented Ken Light, Darcy Padilla and Ed Kashi will all be teaching at the Digital Documentary and the Art of Seeing class. The course will take place from July 1-14 in Monterey Bay. These 3 documentary artists will share, in an intimate setting, their unique experiences and work. The registration deadline is approaching on May 3rd, and applicants are encouraged to apply for the opportunity to take part in this course.


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