California: Paradise Burning

Ed Kashi / VII & Matt Black / Magnum Photos


Since 2012, California has been suffering through a historically severe drought that has affected over 90% of the Golden State. Residents continue to reel from the consequences as another rainy season has left the snowpack well below average, the reservoirs dangerously low, and the cities, towns and agricultural communities jockeying for whatever water is left. As wells go dry, orchards are uprooted or left to die, livestock is destroyed, and workers remain unemployed and feeling useless. On assignment for The New Yorker, photographers Matt Black and Ed Kashi spent time with farmers and shepherds of the Central Valley, documenting their ongoing struggles and the evident domino effect of severe water shortages. As Dana Goodyear writes in the magazine article, for the farmers of the Central Valley, “the country’s fruit basket, salad bowl, and dairy case,” the future seems especially bleak.


Matt Black is from California’s Central Valley, an agricultural region in the heart of the state.  He has traveled over 100,000 miles across 46 U.S. states for his project The Geography of Poverty.  
He received the W. Eugene Smith Award in 2015.  In 2016, he received the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and was named a Senior Fellow at the Emerson Collective.  In 2018, he again received a Robert F. Kennedy Award for his work in Puerto Rico.  His work has also been honored by the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the Center for Cultural Innovation, and others. He is a member of Magnum Photos.

Ed Kashi is an acclaimed photojournalist who uses photography, filmmaking and social media to explore geopolitical and social issues that define our times. He is also a dedicated educator and mentor to photographers around the world and lectures frequently on visual storytelling, human rights and the world of media.