Martin Luther King Jr. as Folk Art

Street Portraits Across L.A. Show How Different Neighborhoods Interpret the Civil Rights Leader in Their Own Image

I did not set out to document murals of Martin Luther King Jr. in American cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Detroit. I just happened to find one back in the 1970s and photograph it, then many others, until a national collection developed. His likeness welcomes shoppers on the facades of liquor stores, barbershops, and fast-food restaurants. He is represented as statesmanlike and heroic, proud and thoughtful, friendly and compassionate.

The street portraits of King are made mostly by sign painters, almost never by trained artists. Street …

Are India’s Elephants Blessed Creatures or Indentured Servants?

Photographs of Majestic Animals Caught Between Two Roles—and Two Eras

In 2011, I visited the magnificent Amber Fort in Jaipur, in the Rajasthan region of India. The beautiful Hindu-style architecture of the fort is adorned with large ramparts and cobbled …

San Bernardino Is Beautiful

Overwhelmed by My City's Dark Sides, I Decided to Go for a Walk

On a stroll through San Bernardino’s business district last weekend, I came across a woman on a street corner gripping a teetering stack of fliers and an empty Big Gulp. …

Why Abolitionist Frederick Douglass Loved the Photograph

He Considered It the Most Democratic of Arts and a Crucial Aid in the Quest to End Slavery and Achieve Civil Rights

Suddenly, it seems, the camera has become a potent weapon in what many see as the beginning of a new civil rights movement. It’s become a familiar tale: Increasingly, blacks …