The U.S.

The inaugural year of Barack Obama's presidency was marked by two challenges of historic proportion. Photojournalists documented the military experience from hometown goodbyes to bomb-scarred lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. Additionally, economic shockwaves from 2008 continued to reverberate through the year as more families faced foreclosures and unemployment lines grew.

The inaugural year of Barack Obama's presidency was marked by two challenges of historical proportion: concurrent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and an enduring economic crisis that was characterized by increasing numbers of home foreclosures and unemployed Americans. Throughout 2009, photojournalists tracked the human side of these events.

Reflecting the Human Experience

The photographer's lens is a mirror that captures a reflection of daily life, from the confident carriage of a six-year-old enrolled in an afterschool program to the private lives of a polygamous sect. By training their lens on the people and poignant events overshadowed by the daily news, social documentary photographers remind us that the world evolves through the struggles of the common man.

The social documentary photographer's lens is a mirror reflecting our society, our cultural issues and the poignant minutiae of our day-to-day life— from capturing moments of an after-school dance program to recording the socioeconomic plight Arizona's Navajo community.

Ecologies and Economies

Photo reporting of climate change illuminates the struggles that governments face trying to maintain their country's economic stability and energy consumption while reducing pollution and conserving natural resources. Two independent documentary projects from the United States and China illustrate how different nations contend with the same balancing act.

Worldwide efforts to reduce pollution and conserve natural resources were counterbalanced by the desire to stimulate economic growth. Photo reportage of man-made environmental damage illuminates the struggles that governments face trying to maintain this delicate balance. Two independent documentary projects from the United States and China illustrate how different nations contend with a similar balancing act.

The Globe

Each year, photographers around the world document the stories, personalities, and places that capture our interest and demand our attention. In 2009, the international stage was set with stories of political unrest, environmental decline and human conflict. While some events commanded widespread media attention, others took place below the public gaze.


Each year, photographers around the world document the stories, personalities and places that capture our interest and demand our attention. Political unrest sparked by contentious elections, the effects of 90 years of the former Soviet Union's agricultural policies on central Asia and the escalating violence inflicted by drug traffickers in Latin America were issues of importance in 2009. Some events seized major media attention, while others would have slipped below the public gaze were it not for the efforts of photojournalists.