Over the weekend, Poynter.org published an email interview conducted by Kenneth Irby with Barbara Davidson, the LA Times photographer whose gaggle of prizes for a gang violence series culminated with a 2011 Pulitzer Prize.
Davidson reveals that she attended more funerals in one year in connection with the reporting project than during her entire previous 18 years of journalism, and that she sometimes chose not to snap pictures because it would have been either too invasive or interrupted a conversation. The last part is key, as it relates to the uncommon level of intimacy achieved by Davidson:
“This project is as intimate as it is because of the time I spent getting to know the families. I remember saying to the families, ‘You are going to see me over and over and over again and you won’t see other media representatives coming back to listen to your story.’ And, that is indeed what happened, so they trusted me. They could see how much the issue meant to me and they liked that. They respected what I was doing and they felt people would listen to their stories through me.”
Davidson adds that this most demanding black and white documentary project also made her realize that gang violence belongs to the category of severely under-reported urban stories.