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Photojournalist presents work on immigration at USD
Photojournalist Jon Lowenstein sees migration as a timeless story, and that is one reason much of his work is done in black and white.
"I go back and forth on black and white and color," he told the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego on Thursday. "But in terms of trying to give the sense of ... the historical connection to migration, the U.S., I feel that black and white helps give me that connection, and the impact of the story to emotion is stronger."
Lowenstein won 2003 and 2006 World Press Photo awards for photos about the Chicago area, where he is based. He received a grant from Getty Images in 2007 to further his long-running immigration project, "Shadow Lives."
He said photographing the story of immigration is time-consuming. "It's not an easy thing to get in to show. First of all you have to speak Spanish to really get into the story, so that rules out a lot of journalists.
"Second of all, it's a slow story. It's not something you can just jump in.... Everybody's been taught it's an exciting story, you know — you're crossing the border — but the vast
majority of the story has been kind of a daily life, a day of living type story."
He said, "As I saw the climate in the country change toward migrants, that is when I started coming to the border." Some of his photos are of Tijuana.
Although Lowenstein has some strong pro-immigration tendencies, he said, "I'm not saying I'm an advocate journalist, I think I'm a photographer. I think some stories need to be told.... I'm there to tell a story to show what's going on."
He is trying to get a "Shadow Lives" book published on immigration. "It's been really hard to find funding... I really want to get this book out," he said.
Some of his most gripping photos had to do with Guatemala, where extortion of bus companies has led to the deaths of hundreds of bus drivers and their assistants.