Matt Black (photographer)

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Matt Black
Born 1970 (age 47–48)
Santa Maria, California, United States
Education B.A., Latin American History
Alma mater San Francisco State University
Occupation Photographer

Matt Black (born 1970, Santa Maria, California) is an American documentary photographer whose work has focused on issues of poverty, migration, and the environment.

Black has received a World Press Photo Award,[1] the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Journalism[2] and the W. Eugene Smith Grant.[3] He is a nominee member of Magnum Photos.[4]

Life and work[edit]

Black grew up in the town of Visalia, California, in the state's agricultural Central Valley. While attending high school, he worked as a photographer at the Tulare Advance-Register, later the Visalia Times-Delta, where he learned the black and white photojournalism style he has used throughout his career. He received a B.A. in Latin American History from San Francisco State University in 1995.[5]

In the early 1990s, Black made several trips to Latin America, work that in 1993 gained first prize in the Daily Life category of the World Press Photo Award.[1] His 1996 article, "Homage to an Outlaw", published by West Magazine, marked the beginning of his long form photojournalism focusing on rural life in the Central Valley.[6]

Other major projects in the Central Valley include The Black Okies, for which he was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2003[7] and From Dust to Dust, about indigenous Mexican migrants in California, for which he received the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Journalism, Domestic Photography category, in 2007.[2]

In 1999, while working on a story about widespread unemployment in the Central Valley in the aftermath of a citrus freeze,[8] Black met a family from Oaxaca, Mexico, which introduced him to the story of indigenous Mixtec migrants. The following year, he traveled to the Mixteca region of southern Mexico, beginning his project The People of Clouds.[9] Again working in the extended photo-essay form, major stories from this project include The Face of the Mountain,[10] After the Fall[11] and The Monster in the Mountains.[12]

In 2014, he began the project The Geography of Poverty, combining geotagged photographs with census data to map and document poor communities. In the summer of 2015, he completed a thirty-state trip photographing seventy of America’s poorest places.[13]

In addition to still photography, Black has completed several short documentary films, including After the Fall,[14] Harvest of Shadows,[15] California Paradise Burning[16] and The Monster in the Mountains.[17]

In June 2015 he became a nominee member of Magnum Photos.[4]


Exhibitions with others[edit]


External links[edit]