San Joaquin: Valley of Shadows and Dreams

One of the most moving, thought-provoking, and significant books we have under development is San Joaquin: Valley of Shadows and Dreams by Ken Light (photographer) and Melanie Light (author). Ken, a world-renowned documentary photographer, has been shooting black-and-white photos of the changing San Joaquin Valley as suburban development springs up on the world’s most fertile farmland soil-photos of jaw-dropping artistic quality that capture not only people, land, and artifact but with amazing bigness of soul capture the mood and tone of this beautiful, betrayed, tortured landscape. Melanie’s text glows with intelligence and outrage. This deeply felt and deeply informed project reminds one of the work of Dorothea Lange and Paul Taylor as they documented another era of change in the San Joaquin Valley.

There is an added dimension to this project. The dynamic resource center PhotoWings has lent financial support to it, and PhotoWings’ founder and director, Susan Katz, has become personally involved. PhotoWings’ mission is “to highlight and help facilitate the power of photography to influence the world.” Under Susan’s guidance we’ve begun not only to do the book but to document the process, to use this as an opportunity to examine and share with others the challenges of putting a book together in an era when both photography and book publishing are being transformed.

Over the months ahead we’ll be shaping this promising raw material into a book that we hope will be supported by exhibitions and will influence the way the San Joaquin Valley sees itself and the way it is seen by others. We invite you to join us as the project unfolds.

Malcolm Margolin, Publisher