“I think of myself as a journalist who chooses the art of photography to bring awareness to issues
throughout the world. As a documentary photojournalist, I adhere to a code of ethics and my pictures depict the unvarnished realities of life. Art is a powerful means of expression, but combined with journalism it has the ability to bring awareness to issues that can elevate the public’s understanding and compassion and hopefully affect meaningful social change.”
-- Renée C. Byer
Renée C. Byer is an award-winning American documentary photojournalist and multimedia field producer best known for her in-depth work focusing on the disadvantaged and those who otherwise would not be heard. Her ability to produce photographs with profound emotional resonance and sensitivity earned her the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography in 2007 and dozens of national and international honors, including the World Understanding Award from Pictures of the Year International, and Pulitzer Finalist in 2013. In 2014, Byer’s images documented a Sacramento Bee investigative series on patient dumping from Nevada that was named a Pulitzer Finalist.
Known for her ability to translate stark statistics into images that connect us to our humanity, she has traveled throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America, covering some of the most important issues of our time. Byer’s stories have deepened our understanding of the environment, climate change, extreme poverty, genetically modified food, healthcare, women at war, domestic violence, and the drought and economic crisis in California. Most recently the Sacramento Bee published a 20-page special section, “No Safe Place,” featuring her images chronicling the plight of Afghan SIV’s as they struggle in the U.S., facing poverty and violence.
Byer’s internationally acclaimed book, Living on a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of the World’s Poor, illuminates the stories of people living on the brink of survival, and invites you to put an end to extreme poverty. The book won First Place Documentary Book from the International Photography Awards in 2014. In addition, Byer narrates a documentary about the project that will be released in 2016.
Byer founded a non-profit foundation to support the goal of eradicating global poverty by the year 2030 with programs that raise awareness and are a call to action. In collaboration with the digital studio, A Fourth Act, Byer aims to reinvent how we experience photo exhibitions with the use of a revolutionary mobile technology titled, YouBridge.It. This mobile application enables users to delve deeper into stories and issues behind the pictures, with the goal of creating a forum to motivate change.
Utilizing the mobile app, an interactive traveling exhibition with Byer’s powerful photos has been built to reach a wider audience. Together with the mobile app Byer’s work bridges the power of stories that build awareness and turn compassion and empathy into social action. In April and May 2016, the Living on a Dollar a Day exhibit was designated as an official exhibition of the Month of Photography, Los Angeles, and later shown at two venues in Sofia, Bulgaria: at the Global Women Leaders’ Forum, sponsored by the UNESCO Division of Gender Equality and the Council of Women in Business in Bulgaria, and at UniCredit Bulbank. At Western Kentucky University in 2017 it was featured on CBS Sunday Morning.
Byer gives back to photojournalism and the international community each year through public lectures and photojournalism workshops. A charismatic teacher and speaker, Byer stirs audiences to see how unbiased photojournalism can raise awareness and affect change. Her compelling TEDx Tokyo talk, “The Storytelling Power of Photography,” received a standing ovation and can be viewed online. Valued for her critical insight, she has served for ten years as a judge for the prestigious Days Japan International Photojournalism Awards. This year Byer was invited to join a UNESCO Who’s Who of Women Speakers. Byer is one of a core group of 70 women chosen to mark the 70th anniversary of UNESCO.
Byer’s photographs have appeared in publications and exhibitions throughout the world, including Paris Match, National Geographic, Time, and Newsweek, and notably at Visa Pour L’Image Festival of the Photograph 2014 and 2017, in Perpignan, France. Photographs from Byer’s book were selected for a stunning display at The 2014 Tech Awards gala in San Jose, CA. An interactive video interview with Byer that shows her Pulitzer Prize-winning images is on permanent exhibit in the Pulitzer Prize Photographs Gallery at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
Byer’s work has been exhibited in numerous solo and group shows, including at Viewpoint Photographic Art Center, LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph, Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, Palm Beach Photographic Center, Annenberg Space for Photography, Hartmann Center Gallery, Exposure Gallery, Chiang Mai Festival of Photography, Photokina, Days Japan International Exhibit and Angkor Wat Photography Festival.
As a Senior Photojournalist for the storied Sacramento Bee, Byer’s images are syndicated worldwide through Tribune News Service, AP, Getty and ZUMA Press. Her career has led her to multimedia projects, personal book projects and photography exhibitions.
Renée C. Byer graduated cum laude from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois.
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