Jared Ragland, 2024


As a White House Photo Editor, I had a front row seat to history. From photographs of George W. Bush standing atop the rubble of the World Trade Center to images of Barack Obama monitoring the raid on Osama bin Laden, I have touched consequential pictures and witnessed firsthand the power of photographs to bear witness and catalyze change. Yet conventional documentary approaches have also perpetuated patriarchal and colonialist power structures, reinforced stereotypes, and objectified marginalized peoples. As a concerned citizen and artist—and as a person of privilege—I have a responsibility to critically confront these problematic traditions while pursuing authentic, ethical relationships with the people and places represented in my pictures.

Aesthetically my work is rooted in my lifelong exposure to the landscapes, people, and customs of the American South, and I am drawn to the unique vernacular language and tradition of storytelling that exists there. Both place and storytelling are fundamental contributors to the critical discourse about American national identity, and I often seek to combine these photographic interests with social science, literary, and historical research methodologies to create possibilities for thoughtful narratives which engage the complexities of identity and history.

By establishing collaborative partnerships with fellow artists, scholars, and community members, my images are positioned to serve as evidence of conversations built on empathy and mutual trust that challenge presumptions, encourage understanding, and connect participants and viewers through common experience and shared stories.

Recent and ongoing projects: What Has Been Will Be Again; The Circle; Hellbender