“Stephen Shames is a tremendous asset  to the disadvantaged children of this nation....His photographs have helped bring the plight of poor children to the mainstream public.”— Marian Wright Edelman

“In trying to promote social change by arousing public opinion, Mr. Shames follows in the honored tradition of Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine.” — The New York Times

Stephen Shames creates award winning photo essays on social issues for foundations, advocacy organizations, the media, and museums.

Steve is author of nine monographs: Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers - co-authored with Bobby Seale (Abrams, 2016),  Bronx Boys (University of Texas Press, 2014) Outside the DreamPursuing the Dream, and The Black Panthers (Aperture), Facing Race (Monrovian College) Free to Grow (Columbia University), Transforming Lives (Star Bright Books), Bronx Boys e-book (FotoEvidence), Shames wrote and directed Friends of the Children, a video. 

Steve’s images are in the permanent collections of the National Portrait Gallery; International Center of Photography; The Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley; The Corcoran Gallery of Art; Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; San Jose Art Museum; Philadelphia Museum of Art; The Ford Foundation; Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Baruch College; Oakland Museum; University Art Museum, Berkeley, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Elton John Foundation, and the Honickman Foundation. Steve’s two solo shows at the Steven Kasher Gallery, New York were reviewed by The New Yorker. Art projects include Interrupted Lives, an installation piece about an incarcerated woman and her daughter.

Steve has been profiled by People Magazine, CBS Sunday Morning. Esquire, US News, Ford Foundation Report, Photo District News, and American Photo (15 Most Underrated Photographers). The Ford, Charles Stewart Mott, Robert Wood Johnson, and Annie E. Casey Foundations have underwritten his work. He testified about child poverty to the US Senate; lectured at Visa Pour L’Image, Perpignan, France; American Bar Association and Children’s Defense Fund national conferences. PBS named Hine, Wolcott, and Shames as photographers whose work promotes social change.

Outside the Dream won numerous awards including the Kodak Crystal Eagle Award for Impact in Photojournalism. Steve’s 2008 bus shelter and subway ads for the NYC DADS campaign of the City of New York received a Pollie award from American Association of Political Consultants.

Other awards include: Luis Valtuña Humanitarian, World Hunger Year, Leica, International Center of Photography, Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Foundation, World Press, and New York Art Director’s Club gave him awards. Clients include Newsweek, People, Esquire, US News, Time; The Ford Foundation,  Annie E. Casey Foundation, United Jewish Communities, and Independent Care System..

Long term photo projects not yet been published as books include: Dads (contribution of low income fathers to their commmunities); Street Kids (Brazil, Bangladesh, India, Romania, Honduras), We Are America, (how children view America after 9/11.), and Homicide in Houston (gun violence affects children.).

Steve started an NGO which locates forgotten children (AIDS orphans, former child soldiers, and children living in refugee camps) with innate talents and molds them into leaders by sending them to the best schools and colleges.

Steve is represented by:
Art: Steven Kasher Gallery, New York.
Photojournalism: Polaris Images in New York.



Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers by Stephen Shames and Bobby Seale (Abrams, 2016).

Coming toward the end of the epic period of America’s Civil Rights Movement, the Black Panther Party burst on the scene, seeking to bring social justice to African American communities. In words and photographs, Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers tells the story of this revolutionary political organization, which was founded on October 15, 1966, by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton. The words are Seale’s, with contributions by other former party members; the photographs, including many icons of the 1960s, are by Stephen Shames, who also provides an introduction.

Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers is a window into the lives and times of Bobby Seale, Huey P. Newton, and their comrades in the party’s vital years. Shames captured the charisma of the young Newton; Seale’s focused energy; Eldridge Cleaver’s intensity; the disciplined style of Kathleen Cleaver and Angela Davis; Emory Douglas laying out the Panther newspaper; George Jackson’s and Bobby Hutton’s funerals; and Panthers marching at rallies and feeding children. Virtually all of the major figures are portrayed, with accompanying commentaries by Seale and the subjects themselves that touch on everything from politics to style. Significant turning points in the story of the party that were not captured by Shames’s camera are described by Seale, with excerpts from writings by Newton and others.

Bronx Boys (University of Texas Press, 2014)

The Black Panthers (Aperture, 2006). Foreword: Bobby Seale. Essay: Charles Jones

Outside the Dream: Child Poverty in America (Aperture & Children’s Defense Fund, 1991). Introduction by Jonathan Kozol. Afterward by Marian Wright Edelman. 

Outside the Dream rivets attention on the more than 13 million children of poverty adrift in our affluent society. Outside the Dream received numerous prizes including the Kodak Crystal Eagle Award for Impact in Photojournalism. In1993, this book was sent to every member of Congress, governor, and Fortune 500 CEO by The Ford, Danforth, Charles Stewart Mott Foundations, and the Foundation for Child Development.

Facing Race: 21st Century Americans (Moravian College, 2008). Essays by Gregory Howard Williams, Marian Wright Edelman, Alex Kotlowitz, Anne Dutlinger. Portraits of multiracial Americans.

Pursuing the Dream: What Helps Children and Their Families Succeed (Aperture & Family Support America, 1997). Preface: Michael Jordan. Essay: Roger Rosenblatt. Text: Kathy Wolf. 

Pursuing the Dream, funded by The Ford, Robert Wood Johnson, and Charles Stewart Mott Foundations; Kodak and Canon, shows solutions to the problems outlined in Outside the Dream. Family Support America, in collaboration with eight state governments, mounted a multi-year (1998-2002) public education campaign using these photos. The exhibit has gone to 30 sites, was exhibited in the rotundas of three state capitols, and numerous professional conferences including the National Conference of State Legislators. Exhibits were opened by Vice President Gore, First Lady Hillary Clinton, state governors, and mayors.

Bronx Boys (FotoEvidence, 2011) An electronic photo book.

Transforming Lives: Turning Uganda’s Forgotten Children into Leaders. (Star Bright, 2009) Essay: Pete Norman.

Free to Grow (Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, 2003) Text: Peter Meyer.

​Other Books

The Way Home (Harry Abrams, 1999) Photographs by Stephen Shames, Tipper Gore, Mary Ellen Mark, Annie Liebowitz, etc., Sponsors: National Alliance to End Homelessness & Corcoran Art Gallery.

Homeless in America (Acropolis, 1988) Photographs by Stephen Shames, Mary Ellen Mark, etc. Homeless in America Photographic Project. Sponsors: Tipper Gore, Chair; Barbara Bush, Honorary Patron.

Empower Zone (Aperture & EZ/EC Foundation Consortium, 2000) Photographs by youth photographers living in Empowerment Zones who were mentored by Steve.


Fellowships and Grants

2003 Knight International Press Fellowship.

2001 Annie E. Casey Foundation.

1999 EZ / EC Foundation Consortium.

1994-96 The Ford Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Eastman Kodak, Canon USA, Leica, and Pennsylvania Council of the Arts.

1992 NPPA – Nikon Documentary Sabbatical Grant.

1987 Homeless in America Photographic Project.

1985 Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship.

National and International Awards (selected)

Kodak Crystal Eagle Award for Excellence in Photojournalism

World Hunger Year,

World Press,

Leica Medal of Excellence in Photojournalism (3 times)

Luis Valtuña Humanitarian

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 Photog of the Year – Award of Excellence

The Villers Foundation

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