For more than forty years, Helen M. Stummer has captured images depicting the dignity, humanity, and suffering of people living in conditions of poverty. Her efforts taught her to understand firsthand the resilience of people living in insufferable conditions. In her inspiring memoir, Risking Life and Lens, Stummer recounts her experiences as a socially-concerned documentary photographer whose passion for her work overcame her fears.
Stummer’s images, from the mean streets of Manhattan and Newark, New Jersey, to the back woods of Maine and the mountains of Guatemala, expose the myths of poverty and serve as a metaphor for her challenges in her own life. The 159 photographs reproduced here recount Stummer’s journey as an artist and her personal quest for truth.
Risking Life and Lens shares Stummer’s work and educational efforts and it provides valuable insights about race, class, and social justice—issues that continue to divide the country and the world. Her work has created change in both her own life and the lives of those who view it.