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Stephen Shames


Stephen Shames (1947)

Stephen Shames has worked as a photojournalist for over forty-five years, using his photography to raise awareness of social issues, with a particular focus on race and child poverty. Working to promote social change, Shames had documented

From 1967 to 1973, while still a student at University of California, Berkley, Shames had unprecedented access to the legendary Black Panther Party. The Party, revered by some and vilified by others, burst onto the scene with a revolutionary agenda for social change and the empowerment of African-Americans.

Shames captured not only the public face of The Black Panther Party — street demonstrations, protests, and militant posturing — but also unscripted behind-the-scenes moments, such as private meetings held in the Party headquarters, scenes from the Panther schools and free meal programs, Huey P. Newton at home, and Bobby Seale at work on his mayoral campaign in Oakland. 

Shames creates award-winning photo essays on social issues for magazines, books, foundations, advocacy organizations, and museums, and in 1986 he testified about child poverty to the United States Senate. His foundation, LEAD Uganda, locates forgotten children, helps foster their innate talents, and molds them into leaders. In 2010 Shames was named a Purpose Prize Fellow for his work helping these AIDs orphans, former child soldiers, and children living in refugee camps


Selected Solo Exhibitions:


Photography & Social Change – Pingyao International Photo Festival, Pingyao, China

Childhood & Youth – Steven Kasher Gallery, New York City

The Black Panthers – De Paul University, Chicago, and other sites



Photography & Social Change – Pingyao International Photo Festival, Pingyao, China

Childhood & Youth – Steven Kasher Gallery, New York City

The Black Panthers – De Paul University, Chicago, and other sites

NYC DADS – Human Resources Administration, New York City

Uganda: Forgotten Children – Clifford Chance law firm, New York City

Uganda: Forgotten Children (Small Survivors) – Gershman Y Galleries, Philadelphia

Facing Race: Multiracial Amers – Moravian College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Emory Douglas & The Art of Revolution – Urbis, Manchester, United Kingdom

Dads – John Jay College, Office of the President, New York City

Human History of the Bay ­­– Oakland Museum – Installation at the Oakland Airport



Black Panthers – Aperture, New York City, Traveling Exhibit

Black Panthers – Vintage Prints – Steven Kasher Gallery, New York City

Uganda: Forgotten Children – Steven Kasher Gallery, New York City

Uganda: Forgotten Children – Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York



Black Panthers – Asian Resource Center, Oakland

Black Panthers – Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University



Dads – Open Society Institute, New York City and Washington D.C.



Outside the Dream: Child Poverty in America – International Center of Photography, New York City



Selected Group Exhibitions:


Posing Beauty – New York University, New York City

Danses noires, Blanche Amérique (Dancing Black Across Modern America) – Centre National de la Danse, Pantin Cedex, France



Thy Brother’s Keeper – Alternative Museum, New York, Kulturverein Zehnscheuer, Germany



Only Human – Academy of Art University, San Francisco, Traveling show

Interrupted Life – Birmingham Civil Rights Institute            



Interrupted Life – Traveling exhibit California Institute for Women, Chino; UC, Santa Cruz

Humanity – Traveling exhibit



Whole World is Rotten – Jack Shainman Gallery, New York City.





2010       Purpose Prize Fellow for work with children in Africa

2005       Luis Valtuña Humanitarian Award

2003       Knight International Press Fellowship

2001       Annie E. Casey Foundation Fellowship

1999       EZ / EC Foundation Consortium

1994       The Ford Foundation Grant

                Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

                Eastman Kodak Grant

                Canon USA Grant

                Pennsylvania Council of the Arts Fellowship

1992       NPPA Nikon Documentary Sabbatical Grant

1987       Homeless in America Photographic Project

1985       Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship 


Kodak Crystal Eagle Award for Impact in Photojournalism            

World Hunger Year

International Center of Photography

Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Foundation Award

World Press

New York Art Director’s Club Gold Medal

Leica Medal of Excellence in Photojournalism (3 times)

International Center of Photography (Special Recognition)

Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards (2nd & 3rd)

New York Art Director’s Club, (Gold)

Gordon Parks (twice)

Rochester Film Festival.

W. Eugene Smith Grant finalist (twice),

Open Society finalist

Canon Photo Essay, Judges Special Recognition

Society of Newspaper Design (Silver, 2 times)

Society of Publication Designers – Annual

American Photography – Annual (2 times)

Communication Arts – Photography Annual (2 times)

FotoFest Publishing Conference – 2nd Place

NPPA, Pictures of the Year (many times)

NPPA, Newspaper Photographer of the Year – Award of Excellence

The Villers Foundation

American Association of Political Consultants – Pollie Award (silver) for NYC DADS campaign.



International Center of Photography, New York City 

National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego

University of California’s Bancroft Library, Berkley

San Jose Museum of Art

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston


Selected Publications:

Bronx Boys published by FotoEvidence (2011)

Transforming Lives: Turning Uganda’s Forgotten Children into Leaders published by Star Bright (2009)

The Black Panthers published by Aperture (2006)

Pursuing the Dream: What Helps Children and Their Families Succeed published by Aperture (1997)

Outside the Dream: Child Poverty in America published by Aperture (1991)