Photography as Social Justice

May 30, 2018 | Karen

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Photography has been a vehicle for social justice since its invention in the 19th century. In particular, documentary photography can deepen our awareness of social and economic inequality. During the month of May, Toronto celebrates the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival.  Toronto Public Library has many excellent resources for those interested in the broader topic of photography, as well as its role in advancing human rights.

Art Books

Freedom now forgotten photographs of the civil rights struggle

"Freedom Now! showcases photographs rarely seen in the mainstream media, which depict the power wielded by black men, women and children in remaking US society through their activism."


The Dust Bowl through the Lens

The Dust Bowl Through the Lens: How Photography Revealed and Helped Remedy a National Disaster: 'The Dust Bowl was a time of hardship and environmental and economic disaster. FDR's army of photographers took to the roads to document this national crisis. Their pictures spoke a thousand words, and a new form of storytellingphotojournalismwas born."


Reza war + peace a photographer's journey

Reza War + Peace: A Photographer's Journey: "Reza trains his lens not just on war and conflict, but also on friendship and loyalty, family life and love. The book follows Reza's photographic career and is narrated in his own words, focusing our attention on the costs of war and the human condition."


African photographer J.A. Green  reimagining the indigenous and the colonial                                                

African Photographer J.A. Green: Reimagining the Indigenous and the Colonial: "J. A. Green (1873-1905) was one of the most prolific and accomplished indigenous photographers to be active in West Africa. This beautiful book celebrates Green's photographs and opens a new chapter in the early photographic history of Africa. Soon after photography reached the west coast of Africa in the 1840s, the technology and the resultant images were disseminated widely, appealing to African elites, European residents, and travelers to the region." 


Northern Exposures: Photographing and Filming the Canadian North, 1920-45: "To many, the North is a familiar but inaccessible place. Yet images of the region are within easy reach, in magazine racks, on our coffee tables, and on television, computer, and movie screens. In Northern Exposures, Peter Geller uncovers the history behind these popular conceptions of the Canadian North."
Shelley Niro
Shelley Niro: "Shelley Niro is widely known for her ability to explode myths, transgress boundaries and embody the ethos of her matriarchal culture in a wide variety of mediums including photography, installation, film and painting. Niro creates photographic series that emphasize the medium's inherent capacity for narrative and representation. She pushes the limits of photography by incorporating Mohawk imagery, re-appropriating traditional stories such as Skywoman and The Peacemaker, and by focusing on contemporary subjects with wit, irony and campy humour."
 Celebration of Resistance  Ontario's Days of Action

Celebration of Resistance: Ontario's Days of Action: 
"Since 1996, in more than a dozen cities, labour and community groups have organised some of the largest and most creative demonstrations in recent Canadian history. The Days of Action have been a vital force to dislodge the Tory government of Mike Harris, and its "common-sense revolution." With photographs from all the events, this book celebrates the achievement of large-scale, peaceful, and meaningful protest. Vincenzo Pietropaolo has been documenting social change movements in Canada for years and his keen professional eye brings to this book a wonderful sense of life and humour."
Queer: "Sunil Gupta's photographs have done much to raise awareness aboutand overcome the taboos ofhomosexual life throughout the modern world."

Documentaries on DVD

Dorothea Lange Grab a Hunk of Lightning DVD