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Over the summer, Jason Jaacks will focus his lens on the devastation experienced by small fishing communities in Baja, Mexico.

Jason Jaacks, a second-year student in the Graduate School of Journalism, is the 2014 winner of the Dorothea Lange Fellowship, based on the merits of a selection of still photographs.

Jaacks’ photo collection documents the U.S-Mexico borderlands. His photographs reveal recently-deported migrants, American ranchers, and the wall that divides the two countries. Jason also spent time on the Tohono O’odham Nation, a Native American reservation along the border in Arizona and Mexico. The images examine the impacts of the border wall, which divides members of the tribe into two countries.

“To win the Dorothea Lange Fellowship is an incredible honor,” Jaacks said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to make photographs about an issue I care about.”

Jaacks’ photo collection documents the U.S-Mexico borderlands
Jaacks’ photo collection documents the U.S-Mexico borderlands

The $4,000 Dorothea Lange Award will enable Jaacks to capture another important story. Over the summer, he will focus his lens on the devastation experienced by small fishing communities in Baja, Mexico.

“Jacques Costeau once called the Sea of Cortez the world’s aquarium,” explained Jaacks. “Over the last half-century, the sea has been devastated by foreign fishing fleets and tourists, leaving little for people who depend on the Sea of Cortez. Those communities are searching for ways to bring their fishery back.”

Jaacks studied documentary photography as an undergraduate in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He became “very familiar” with Lange’s work, he said, and “found a lot of inspiration in the photographs she made. “

Sean Havey

The Dorothea Lange fellowship committee also honored Sean Havey — another J-School graduate student — for his photo collection featuring an HIV clinic in Yangon, Myanmar.

Havey described the HIV clinic as an invaluable, life-saving resource to many individuals in that region. “There is a high rate of infection in Myanmar and many people have poor access to a very stressed medical system.”

Havey documented gold mines in the Madre de Dios region of Peru
Havey documented gold mines in the Madre de Dios region of Peru

With his $2,500 award, Havey recently traveled to the Amazon jungle in Peru for another story. In the jungle, he documented the environmental and social catastrophes that have occurred as a result of the constant pursuit of gold and related mining activities occurring in the Madre de Dios region.

“It is an honor to work in the same vein of photography as Lange,” Havey said. “I was able to travel abroad and and capture an underreported story that I think Lange would be proud of.”

The Dorothea Lange Fellowship, in memory of one of the most outstanding documentary photographers of the 20th century, encourages the use of photography in the scholarly work of any discipline at UC Berkeley. The fellowship may be awarded to UC Berkeley faculty members, graduate students, and seniors who have been accepted for graduate work at Berkeley. Applicants must demonstrate outstanding work in documentary photography and provide a creative plan for future work. 

Past Winners:
2013      Molly Oleson, Journalism
2012       Tyler Orsburn, Journalism
2011       Vanessa Carr, Journalism
2010      Steve Saldivar, Journalism
2009      Rhyen Coombs, Journalism
2008      Adithya Sambamurthy, Journalism
2007      Jeremy Rue, Journalism
2006      Jakob Schiller, Journalism, and Timothy Wheeler, Journalism
2005     Tristan Spinski, Journalism