Photo essays have proven their ability not only to document but actually change the course of human events. If that is the case, shouldn’t we be searching for the essential photo-essays of our time, the pictures that will spark public discourse and instigate the type of real-world reforms that engaged citizens in the past? What Matters, a new book edited by David Elliot Cohen, attempts to answer this question with eighteen important photo-essays by this generation’s preeminent photojournalists. These essays poignantly address the big issues of our time: climate change, oil addiction, the inequitable distribution of global wealth and other current problems. The book ends with “What You Can Do,” an appendix that offers hundreds of ways to be part of the solution to the compelling challenges we now face.
David Elliot Cohen, Author and Editor
David Elliot Cohen is the co-creator of the renowned Day in the Life and America 24/7 series of photojournalism books. Four of these volumes were New York Times bestsellers. Several others were national and international best-sellers. A graduate of Yale University, Cohen’s award-winning books have appeared on the covers of Time and Newsweek, in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today among many other periodicals worldwide. His pro bono books have benefited victims of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, AIDS education programs in Africa and most recently, AIDS orphans in Uganda.
Michael Watts, Chancellor’s Professor of Geography
and Development Studies at the University of California, Berkeley
Michael Watts has held visiting appointments at the Museum of Natural History and the National Science Foundation. Watts has received grants from the Rockefeller, MacArthur and Guggenheim Foundations, the last to study the interplay of oil, politics and wealth in West Africa. He is the author of five books and the Geopolitics article “Resource Curse? Governmentality, Oil and Power in the Niger Delta.” His latest book, in cooperation with photographer Ed Kashi, is titled Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta.
Ed Kashi, Photographer
Ed Kashi has photographed in more than sixty countries. His images have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Time, Geo, Newsweek and many other publications. He shot eleven major stories for National Geographic. His first Geographic cover story was published as the book When the Borders Bleed: The Struggle of the Kurds. His project on Protestants in Northern Ireland was published as The Protestants: No Surrender. His work on West Bank Jewish settlers received a World Press Photo award. In 2003 he completed an eight-year project, Aging in America: The Years Ahead, that included an exhibit, award-winning documentary film, website and book. The project won prizes from Pictures of the Year and World Press Photo. Kashi and his wife, writer/filmmaker Julie Winokur, founded Talking Eyes Media, a multimedia nonprofit that produced a book and exhibition called Denied: The Crisis of America’s Uninsured.
Mark Gonnerman (moderator) is director of the Aurora Forum.