Bruce Berman has been a professional photographer for almost four decades and has always worked in the documentary style, what some call The Concerned Photographer style of photography. Additionally, he has a total of 12 years experience teaching in higher education.
His initial documentary projects were in Chicago where he photographed Appalachian migrants in Uptown, Black Panthers during the tumultuous late 1960’s and the gritty street life of Chicago in its Rust Belt years. During these tumultuous years he was Midwest photographer for the Christian Science Monitor, and freelanced for the AP, UPI, Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, Der Spiegel, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and others.
His main work for the past thirty years has concentrated on the United States/Mexico border, particularly the narrow stretch of land that encompasses El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico. Starting in 2007, his work has turned more and more to traditional documentary photojournalism, the form that he began with. As he said in a recent interview, “The Border has now been reduced to a grim reality. The joy is on hold. The mythic place is gone. It’s a B/W reality now. Photojournalism is the only form I can think of that really can tell what Mexico is today. We’re beyond interpretation.” Bruce Berman’s work can be seen on a regular basis in The New York Times, Time, and other national and international publications and on his own online magazine, The Border Blog (www.border-blog.com).
Since 2006 he has been a Professor of Visual Communication at New Mexico State University, and teaches Introduction to Photography, Documentary Photography, and Photojournalism, and is currently developing a multimedia program. His undergraduate and graduate degrees were earned at the University of Oklahoma H.H. Herbert School of Journalism and he studied with Ernst Hass of Magnum, Sam Abell of National Geographic and Roy Morsch of the New York Daily News.
Berman’s work at NMSU has concentrated on making the learning experience as “real world” as possible. “Being a photojournalist is all about improvisation and commitment,” he says. “Once you have the basics you have to teach yourself your own tricks, find your own voice, improve your listening and your seeing skills, and, realize the extent of the commitment that is required to get to a meaningful outcome.” He often tells his students “I want you to use photography as an instrument of education, not self expression, so that you will have a chance to matter.”
He tries to follow that advice.
For more work by Bruce Berman, see: www.border-blog.com.