Matt Black is an amazing documentary photographer. Above you’ll see the Kickstarter video of his ongoing project titled The People of Clouds, which he’s currently raising funds to complete.
His photography mainly deals with the migrant laborers in his native central California. In The People of Clouds, he goes to the other side of the border to explore the origins of over 250,000 Mixtec migrants; an indigenous people from the Oaxaca state in Mexico. The video above explains it much better than I can, but my short version is that he examines the root cause (literally, in this case; man-made soil erosion has devastated the ecology of the Mixteca region) of the mass exodus of a people that threatens to bring low an ancient culture.
Black’s work is incredible on many levels. At first glance, it’s formally beautiful. The grain, the contrast, the compositions; all of it is gorgeous. But more importantly, all of these aesthetic elements serve the interest of the work itself. It’s a case of form following function.
Black has spent over a decade documenting forgotten people and places. His work tells a big story, but on a human level; it unfolds one small moment at a time and gradually builds on itself the deeper you go. It respects his subjects and his audience by not sensationalizing its themes or ham-fistedly trying to tug at heart strings*. There’s a quiet dignity to the proceedings that’s rarely found in this type of subject matter, the handling of which often borders on the exploitative.
To see more of his work (there’s a lot of it and all of it is great), check out his website here: MATT BLACK.
For his Kickstarter page, go here.
*(Example: his multimedia project Address: Kettleman is about a community in central California that has five birth defects in every sixty-four births. The project shows photos of houses alongside addresses and marks the ones that have had birth defects. No pictures of cleft palates. No Sally Struthers “For the price of a cup of coffee a day” bullshit. Just façades, addresses, and — where appropriate — a description of a birth defect and maybe a brief audio clip of a parent talking about it.)