The documentary photographer whose work I admire is Matt Black. He is no stranger to California, but has taken the time to document and shoot in over one hundred communities through 44 of our 50 states along with the California/Mexico border, and the Mexican state of Guerrero. He mostly focuses on the correlation between migration, poverty, agriculture, and the environment. He is a black-and-white photographer whose work shows the intensity and harshness of the situations at hand. What I enjoy most about the works Black brings is the raw nature of his photography. There is so much beauty in the hardships we may not care to think about, and he pushes them at you in a way that is so in your face that you can ignore the issue no longer.
Projects by Matt Black include People of Clouds, Kingdom of Dust, and Geography of Poverty which happens to be my favorite. In order to show us the said “geography” of poverty rates in the United States, Black traveled across the country, to emphasize how poverty reaches is fingers into all stretches of American living. Stories by Black include The Dry Land, Monster in the Mountains, The Black Oakies, and Face the Mountain.
The sense of calm and urgency I feel when looking over these stories and projects is so conflicting and reassuring. As if these photos are telling me to do something (NOW) but also enjoy my luxuries, however small and insignificant I may find them. These photographs are not images, but stories, as is true for all photographers.
As a very praised photographer, Black is a recipient of the W. Eugene Smith award (2015), the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award (2016), received and honor by the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and many more.