It is often said that the golden age of photojournalism began with the invention of portable film cameras and ended in the 1970s with the demise of publications like Life magazine, whose photos reached a vast audience and provided generations of photographers with venues to show off their craft. Newspaper photography was left to fill the void but didn’t offer the same expansive canvas. Digital photography and online journalism further pushed photojournalism in its purest form to an obscure background. In a world where most humans now carry cameras in their pockets, the demand for skilled photojournalists has declined — while the number of photos in circulation has exploded beyond what anyone could have imagined. 

In this webinar, Searchlight New Mexico brings acclaimed photographers together for a conversation about the role of photojournalism today and in the future.

The moderator and panelists will describe how their images not only tell stories, but also convey information and emotion. Photojournalism is thriving in new ways, exposing us to multitudes of images with the power to unite or divide us. How does this shape our world?

Where: Broadcast via Zoom Webinar.
When: Thursday, April 1, 2pm MT
This event has already passed, you can now watch the full recording on demand above. 

Moderated by

Don J. Usner
Don J. Usner, a New Mexico native, is the photo editor and photographer for Searchlight New Mexico. His photography also appears in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Lenswork, USA Today and Photo Booth (an online blog of the New Yorker), as well as in numerous local and regional magazines.

Usner earned a B.A. in biology and environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a master’s degree in geography at the University of New Mexico. He has authored, co-authored and provided photographs for many books, including The Natural History of Big Sur; Sabino’s Map: Life in Chimayó’s Old Plaza; ¡Órale! Lowrider: Custom Made in New Mexico; Chasing Dichos through Chimayó; and Valles Caldera: A Vision for New Mexico’s National Preserve. He also teaches photography at the high school and college levels.

Meet the panelists:

Jose R. Lopez
Lopez has 31 years of experience as a photographer and photo editor at The New York Times. He was a member of the Times photography team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. His assignments at the paper ranged from Olympic games and Super Bowls to national and foreign stories that included chronicling the final days of the Bosnian war in 1995. 

Lopez was also a member of the White House Press Corps and covered three presidents: Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. His work at the Times included assigning, mentoring and photo editing; he also helped shape an app at the paper that was considered a milestone in its digital evolution. 

A native of Santa Fe, Lopez retired from the Times in 2015 and now works as a freelance photo editor and a mentor for younger colleagues, sharing with them the insider details of covering historic events to deepen their professional skills and polish the photo galleries and stories they create at In his decade as Director of Photography for the New York Times Student Journalism Institute, he has selected and mentored four photographers per year, helping undergrads hone their skills.

Ada Trillo
Ada Trillo is a Philadelphia-based photographer, native to the Juarez-El Paso binational metroplex. In her work, she focuses on borders of inclusion and exclusion as they are experienced through people in sex trafficking, climate and violence-related international migration, and long-standing borders of race and class. Through the elements of documentary and fine art photography, Trillo lays bare our common humanity and dignity and brings attention to the impact that borders have on exploited and marginalized people by amplifying their voices. Trillo’s work is in the permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She is the recipient of the Female in Focus 2020 best series award and was recently featured in The Guardian, Vogue, Smithsonian Magazine, and Mother Jones, among other publications. She was awarded The Me & Eve Grant from CENTER Santa Fe, a nonprofit that supports the photographic arts, and received First Place in Editorial with the Tokyo International Foto Awards. Trillo has exhibited both nationally and internationally in New York City, Philadelphia, Luxembourg, England, Italy and Germany.

Michael Benanav
Michael Benanav is an author and freelance photographer known for immersing in foreign cultures and bringing compelling stories and images back from distant places.

His first book, Men of Salt: Crossing the Sahara on the Caravan of White Gold, tells the true story of a 1,000-mile journey with one of the world’s last working camel caravans. His second book, The Luck of the Jews: An Incredible Story of Loss, Love, & Survival in the Holocaust, traces the astonishing wartime experiences that brought his paternal grandparents together in 1944. His latest book, Himalaya Bound: One Family’s Quest to Save Their Animals & an Ancient Way of Life, follows nomadic water buffalo herders on their annual spring migration into the Indian Himalayas.

Benanav also writes and/or shoots for The New York Times, Searchlight New Mexico, Lonely Planet, The Christian Science Monitor Magazine, Geographical, Sierra, Afar, and Hand/Eye, among others. His photographic work has appeared in the National Geographic book, Rarely Seen: Images of the Extraordinary, and has been exhibited at Lincoln Center and The American Museum of Natural History in New York, and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, in Delhi.

Searchlight New Mexico is hosting this event in partnership with CENTER Santa Fe, a nonprofit that supports photographers and advances photographic arts that promote social justice.

Searchlight New Mexico is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit journalism organization that produces high-impact investigative journalism in the public interest. Photography is central to Searchlight’s mission, providing images that spark compassion and tell great stories.