Louie Palu

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Louie Palu

Author and jjournalist Michelle Shephard in Guantanamo.jpg
Palu on assignment at the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba with writer Michelle Shephard and other media.
Born1968 (age 51–52)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
OccupationPhotojournalist, Artist

Louie Palu RCA (born 1968) is a Canadian documentary photographer and filmmaker known for covering social-political issues, including war and human rights. His first major body of work was Cage Call: Life and Death in the Hard Rock Mining Belt with writer Charlie Angus, followed by working for The Globe and Mail for 6 years as a staff photographer (2001–2007). In addition to this, he covered the war in Kandahar, Afghanistan, between 2006 and 2010 and the drug war on the U.S.-Mexico border between 2011 and 2012.[1]

Personal life and education[edit]

Palu was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1968 to Italian immigrant parents. His mother worked as a seamstress before his birth and his father was a stonemason.[2] Palu graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design University in 1991. He was awarded a summer scholarship to study in New York City.[3]


Palu is known for projects focusing on social-political issues. His five long-term projects are as follows.

Cage Call[edit]

Cage Call: Life and Death in the Hard Rock Mining Belt was an in-depth project that began in 1991 and continued until 2003 examining communities in mining regions located in Northwestern Ontario and Northeastern Quebec. This work resulted in the publishing of two books with writer Charlie Angus. The first book was Industrial Cathedrals of the North published by Between the Lines in 1999. The second was Cage Call: Life and Death in the Hard Rock Mining Belt as an award from PhotoLucida. The work is in the collection of Library and Archives Canada[4][5] and has been published widely, including the Virginia Quarterly Review.[6]


In 2004, Palu began a project on asbestos and its impact on its victims, which was subsequently published as several articles in The Globe and Mail newspaper such as the story "Dying For a Living"[7] and Report on Business Magazine (RoB Magazine).[8] "Where Asbestos is Just a Fact of Life," published in the December 2011 RoB Magazine, was the most highly recognized single article in that year's National Magazine Awards. Written by John Gray and Stephanie Nolen, with photographs by Louie Palu, it was nominated for a record five awards, taking gold in the business category, silver in politics and public interest and honourable mentions in investigative reporting, health and medicine and science, technology and the environment.[9]

Several more articles which have been published in The Globe and Mail up and to 2016 such as "The Deadly Effects of Asbestos Use"[10] and "No Safe Use",[11] which won a Canadian Online Publishing Award (COPA) [12][13] No Safe Use, a months-long project which delved into the deadly legacy of Canadians' exposure to asbestos, won a gold medal for Best Interactive Story and was also named winner of the Best Content award. No Safe Use was written by Tavia Grant and edited by Ted Mumford. It included photography and video by Louie Palu.

Palu's work on asbestos also appeared in The Scotsman, Scotland's national newspaper[14] and has been cited in petitions to the Office of the Auditor General of Canada in the use and export of asbestos,[15] as well as by The Rideau Institute in its report "Exporting Harm: How Canada Markets Asbestos to the Developing World" by Kathleen Ruff [16] and during a debate on asbestos in the UK Parliament in 2009 by then British Labour Party Member of Parliament (MP) for Paisley & Renfrewshire North Jim Sheridan.[17]

Kandahar, Afghanistan[edit]

While a staff photographer at The Globe and Mail, Louie was sent on an assignment in 2006 to cover the Canadian combat mission in Kandahar, Afghanistan. In early 2007, upon his return, he left The Globe and Mail and joined the photo agency, ZUMA Press, and returned to Kandahar. This was the first of several trips Louie made to cover the war through 2010.[18] In his time spent in Kandahar, he worked embedded and independently of the military, covering frontline combat with Canadian, American, British, and Afghan soldiers. His work was published in many publications including the Virginia Quarterly Review, The Toronto Star,[19] the academic journal of political theory Theory and Event,[20] and has been exhibited at the Canadian War Museum. The completed body of work is entitled: "The Fighting Season."[21]

Guantanamo Bay[edit]

In 2007, Palu made his first of several trips through 2010 to the Guantanamo Bay prison facility, located on a U.S. military installation in Cuba. His photographs of detainees and the prison have been published in The Atlantic,[22] NPR,[23] The New York Times,[24] and The Walrus,[25] along with several others.

Mexican drug war[edit]

Palu was awarded a Bernard L. Schwartz Fellowship from the Washington-based New America Foundation in 2011 to study the drug war in Mexico and its relationship to the United States of America.[26] This work can be found in many publications, such as Foreign Policy Magazine[27] and the Globe and Mail.[28] He was also awarded a Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting grant for this project.[29]


  • Industrial Cathedrals of the North. With Charlie Angus and Marguerite Andersen. Between the Lines Books, 1999. ISBN 1-896357-18-0.
  • Mirrors of Stone: Fragments from the Porcupine Frontier. With Charlie Angus. Between the Lines, 2001. ISBN 1-896357-49-0.
  • Cage Call: Life and Death in the Hard Rock Mining Belt. With Charlie Angus. Photolucida, 2007. ISBN 978-1-934334-02-7.
  • Front Towards Enemy. With an essay by Rebecca Senf. Yoffy Press, Atlanta, GA, 2017[30]. ISBN 978-1-943948-08-6.
  • A Field Guid to Asbestos. Yoffy Press, Atlanta, GA, 2019[31]. ISBN 978-1-949608-07-6


Palu's work has been exhibited in museums, galleries, and festivals. His work was selected for the 2012-2013 landmark exhibition "War/Photography: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath," curated by Anne Wilkes Tucker, Will Michaels and Natalie Zelt. It opened at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts in November 2012 and has subsequently been exhibited at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC and the Brooklyn Museum in New York City.[citation needed]




  1. ^ Noah Richler, "Louie Palu: The Art of War," Canadian Art, October 4, 2010.
  2. ^ Hal Stucker, "One to Watch: Louie Palu," Photo District News, May 1, 2012.
  3. ^ "What do you do with a degree from OCAD University?" OCAD University. Retrieved 2014-01-04. Archived 2014-01-14 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b "New acquisitions - archives: Highlights" Library and Archives Canada. Accessed 17 September 2016
  5. ^ a b "Louie Palu collection"Library and Archives Canada. Accessed 17 September 2016
  6. ^ Louie Palu, "The Underground Giant: Life in the Hard Rock Mines of Quebec and Ontario," Virginia Quarterly Review, Fall 2010, 48-65.
  7. ^ "Dying For a Living," The Globe and Mail, March 13, 2004.
  8. ^ "Where asbestos is just a fact of life," The Globe and Mail, November 25, 2011.
  9. ^ "Walrus wins big at National Magazine Awards," The Globe and Mail, June 8, 2012.
  10. ^ "The Deadly Effects of Asbestos Use," The Globe and Mail, December 15, 2016.
  11. ^ "No Safe Use," The Globe and Mail, 2014.
  12. ^ "Globe wins four Canadian online media awards," The Globe and Mail, November 21, 2014.
  13. ^ "Recognizing Digital Excellence in the Canadian publishing industry. The COPA 2014 Winners," CNW Newswire, November 21, 2014.
  14. ^ "In pictures: The victims of asbestos," The Scotsman, January 16, 2009.
  15. ^ "Canada's use and export of chrysotile asbestos," Office of the Auditor General of Canada, December 18, 2009.
  16. ^ "Exporting Harm: How Canada Markets Asbestos to the Developing World," Rideau Institute, October, 2008.
  17. ^ "Column 447WH," UK Parliamentary Proceedings, February 11, 2009.
  18. ^ Phil Coomes, "Five Years in Afghanistan," BBC News, March 1, 2011.
  19. ^ Louie Palu, "Frontline Medevac Teams are Life-Savers in Afghanistan," The Toronto Star, January 1, 2011.
  20. ^ [1]
  21. ^ Louie Palu, "Southern Afghanistan: The Fighting Season," The Digital Journalist, April 2009.
  22. ^ Louie Palu. "Guantanamo and Its Remaining Prisoners: A Photographer's View," The Atlantic, November 16, 2010.
  23. ^ "A Visual Tour of Detention at Guantanamo," National Public Radio, February 12, 2008.
  24. ^ Charlie Savage, "As Acts of War or Despair, Suicides Rattle a Prison," The New York Times, April 24, 2011.
  25. ^ Louie Palu, "Goodbye, Guantanamo," Walrus Magazine. Retrieved 2014-01-07. Archived 2011-11-22 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ a b "Louie Palu," New America Foundation. Retrieved 2014-01-09.
  27. ^ "La Frontera," Foreign Policy Magazine, January 2, 2013.
  28. ^ Louie Palu, "Crossing the Line: Chronicling Mexico's Drug War," The Globe and Mail, January 25, 2013.
  29. ^ a b "Louie Palu," Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Retrieved 2014-01-09.
  30. ^ "Louie Palu – Front Towards Enemy". PhotoBook Journal. 2018-01-26. Retrieved 2019-10-07.
  31. ^ "Louie Palu – A Field Guide to Asbestos". PhotoBook Journal. 2019-08-20. Retrieved 2019-10-07.
  32. ^ "2008 Photojournalist of the Year & Photo of the Year awards," News Photographs Association of Canada, April 26, 2009.
  33. ^ "Home Front," The Aftermath Project. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
  34. ^ "Louie Palu," Alexia Foundation. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
  35. ^ "National Magazine Award-Winning Portrait Photography 2007-2010," Magazine Awards. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  36. ^ Pictures of the Year International. Retrieved 2014-01-09.
  37. ^ "New Members". Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  38. ^ "Louie Palu". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Retrieved 17 September 2016.

External links[edit]