“Looking forward 50 or 60 years we feel confident that the documentation provided in these contemporary photographs will be treasured by historians, photographers and the public—much as the FSA collection, which arrived newly minted back in the 1940s, is treasured by all those groups today.” -Helena Zinkham, chief of the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division, in an announcement of the Library of Congress’ partnership with Facing Change
Photography, at its best, records history as it happens. Facing Change: Documenting America, which I’ve been following for a while, aims to do just that. Sort of a hybrid collective and online publication, it’s a collection of photographers and writers working on stories relating to “cover and publish under-reported aspects of America’s most urgent issues.” That’s an admirable and necessary goal. The costs involved in covering these types of stories is not insignificant. If you’ve ever stared down the void of endless emails and phone calls to editors trying to see the stories in print, getting them published is even harder.
Now, with this partnership with the Library of Congress, Facing Change has just attained a significant milestone toward getting their stories made, seen, and preserved in the record of history. This is no small achievement. The Library of Congress’ press release announcing the partnership likens Facing Change to the Farm Security Administration’s photographers in the 1930s and 40s. That historic program is, arguably, the beginning of modern, concerned photojournalism. With the Library of Congress and other partners in academia, journalism, and arts, alongside these photographers and writers, Facing Change may well be a significant journalistic document of our modern times.
Congratulations to the crew at Facing Change. They’re among the best of the best: the photographers and writers involved are some of the most thoughtful and incisive working in America. This project, and especially the partnership with the Library of Congress, assures a legacy for their work beyond the pages of today’s paper or this month’s magazines.