Justin Maxon (1983) was born and raised in a number of small towns in the woods of northern California. He is a visual storyteller, arts educator, and journalist influenced by social practice: an interdisciplinary approach that acknowledges the socio-historical context from which issues are born and incorporates the multiple voices that texture stories. He seeks to understand how his positionality as a person racialized as white, who grew up on the Hoopa Valley Reservation, plays out in his work as a storyteller. His praxis seeks to remedy the harm he has caused during his time as photojournalist, where he was in control of narratives that were not his to possess. The question driving his practice now is how do you offer a critical examination to counter what bell hooks describes as “the seduction of images that threatens to dehumanize”? Scholars and artists such as Joe Feagin, Carrie Mae Weems, and Stuart Hall, offer direction: returning home to the places, people and issues that informs who, what, where and how we choose to represent.
He has received numerous awards for his photography, from competitions UNICEF Images of the Year, and American Photo. He has won two 1st place awards from World Press Photo. He won the Deeper Perspective Photographer of the Year at the Lucie Awards. He was named one of PDN’s 30 Photographers to Watch. He was selected to participate in World Press Photo’s Joop Swart Masterclass.
His 8-year transmedia project in Chester PA, examines the physical, psychological, and spiritual repercussions of unresolved trauma from unsolved murder. The project, titled, Heaven’s Gain, materialized into many different visual forms: hand made mock murder case files which incorporated photography, archival material, and historical narratives; a trans-media installation, a short documentary, and a published investigative story in the Mother Jones Magazine. The different components of the project have been award the Aaron Siskind Foundation Fellowship, a Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund Grant, the Alexia Foundation for World Peace Professional Grant, the Visura Grant for Outstanding Personal Project, the Reminders Stronghold Photography Grant, the Cliff Edom “New America Award” from NPPA, and a Salute to Excellence Award from the National Association of Black Journalists.
As a photojournalist he has worked on feature and cover stories for publications such as TIME, Rolling Stone, Newsweek, MSNBC, Mother Jones Magazine, Bloomberg Businessweek, Fast Company, Fader Magazine, The New York Times, and NPR.