Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
September 19, 2009

Ken Light's California: Going to Seed (Hallelujah!)

Ken-Light-Newsweek1.jpg

I’d like to take some time looking at work by Ken Light, one of the country’s best social and documentary photographers. Co-author of Coal Hollow and Tell it on a Mountain with his wife, Melanie, Ken recently completed an extensive project for Newsweek looking at the status of California’s San Joaquin Valley.

So the recession is over right? Well obviously, somebody forgot to tell California.

With real estate development being the California equivalent of Wall Street derivative trading, this photo zeros in on at least two targets. Besides illustrating how vultures lay wait in the loan modification marketplace, it draws a connection between ministry and misery, or between faith and (bust-bubble) commerce.

It’s not surprising the sales pitch by this prophetically-inspired church adopts the look and feel of a real estate billboard, housing being the holy grail of California’s economy. For the evangelical, however, it’s a win-win. Whether selling faith like you would an extra half-bath or a subdivision with extra crosswalks, or as an ironic reminder of and respite from the same (the sense from this tract being that California has now “gone to seed”) the sign remains firmly planted.

From: Valley of the Shadows – Newsweek

(Revised 11am)

(image: ©Ken LIght, Stockton, California)

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