Once described as “a soldier with a camera”, Eugene Richards has been documenting the difficult and the deadly for several decades. Born in Dorchester, Massachusetts – Richards went on to receive a degree in English and journalism at Northeastern University and then photography at M.I.T where he studied with Minor White.
In 1968, Richards was offered a position in VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) in lieu of imprisonment for resisting the draft. He was placed in a section called the “War On Poverty” where for a year and a half; Richards would spend his time in eastern Arkansas. During his time there, Richards helped found a newspaper “May Voices” and subsequently his photographs were also published in his first book “Few Comforts or Surprises: The Arkansas Delta”.
Upon returning to Dorchester, Richards continued with his tradition of concerned documentary photography, this time capturing the racial unrest of his childhood neighborhood. This was the beginning of a log career of coming face to face with racial violence, political refugees, the drug culture of North Philadelphia, the criminally insane, the experiences of cancer patience and the deteriorating working class.
In 1978 Richards became a member of Magnum Photos and has since gone on to publish over 7 award winning books such as “Exploding Into Life”, Below The Line: Living Poor in America” and “Stepping Through the Ashes”. He has also been the recipient of countless photography honors such as a Guggenheim Fellowship, Leica Medal of Excellence and a Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Journalism Award.
Eugene Richards’s images continue to linger with those who have viewed them, as they are both incredibly intimate as well as haunting. Don McCulling once said “He brings tremendous pain into his vision, and he makes you very aware of what you’re looking at.” It is that unease and ability to share both pictorially and emotionally the struggle and lives of others that crates the power and beauty behind Richards images. Images that are now globally recognized and championed.