Lens on Life: See the World in a New Light

Coming very soon to a bookshelf near you, Lens on Life is the new book on documentary photography by award-winning documentary photographer Stephanie Calabrese Roberts. But before we give you a run-down of Stephanie’s (very impressive) credentials, the story of the book itself is one worth hearing.

The Beginning


In Spring 2009, Stephanie won the “Name Your Dream Assignment” global photography competition sponsored by Lenovo and Microsoft. This award sent Stephanie and her “Picture Hope” project partner, Jen Lemen, on a journey to remote regions of Rwanda, Tanzania, and Nepal to capture and share images and stories of hope from courageous changemakers and individuals including modern-day slaves, genocide survivors, refugees, and the poorest of the poor. This project inspired the organisation Lens on Life.

The Organisation

Lens on Life is a project that illuminates the unseen, providing a visual voice for people – and particularly children – living in material poverty and challenging conditions around the world. By teaching its students photography skills, Lens on Life connects people divided by cultural, socio-economic, and geographic boundaries, and puts the ability to record their world within the grasp of the disenfranchised. As it is a start-up, non-profit organization, it needs support from people who believe in its purpose. Click here to find out how to get involved and spread the word by subscribing to their blog.

The Book

The beginnings of the book then, came from observing how the documenting of an experience not only empowers the record-keeper, but how the subjects we choose to record – be they domestic, political, or environmental – show a view of the world that is individual to each person.

At its heart, documentary photography is the art of using a camera to explore, study, capture, and share authentic moments – a single image or series of images that portray the essence of the experience. As photographers, we aim to play the role of objective observers, minimizing our influence on the subject matter, yet we subconsciously infuse a bit of ourselves in each of the images we create to portray a view of our world.

Illustrated with Stephanie’s striking artwork as well as that of eight photographers who have documented stories all over the globe, this book will sharpen your artistic intuition and give you the confidence to take on personal or professional documentary assignments. A practical guide filled with tips and techniques, Lens on Life is a critical companion to any photographer considering a new documentary project regardless of the size, scope, and subject matter of the endeavor. Check it out here, or pre-order on Amazon from our partners Focal Press.

The Author

Stephanie Calabrese Roberts is a partner in and regular contributor to Shutter Sisters, the most popular online women’s photography community and the creator of LittlePurpleCow Productions. Stephanie is the author of the best-selling The Art of iPhoneography: A Guide to Mobile Creativity, and co-author of Expressive Photography: A Shutter Sisters’ Guide to Shooting from the Heart.

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Tara Gallagher

Tara Gallagher is editor at Ilex Photo.

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