Photographer Bruce Davidson was shooting scenes of urban poverty on East 100th Street in New York, when a woman asked him why he was there. When he said he was shooting images of the ghetto, she responded, “What you call a ghetto, I call my home.”

Davidson, a member of the Magnum Photos collective, worked hard to balance the dire situations that residents lived in with moments of beauty and resilience. It was also a common thread throughout his life’s work. No matter the situation, Davidson’s subjects maintained their inalienable right, as humans, to dignity. This is apparent in Davidson’s book, “Bruce Davidson” (Prestel, May 2016), a collection of his most important work including the civil rights era, the subway, a circus and a Brooklyn gang.

While Davidson could take a photo in an instant, reform came slowly. “[My work] doesn’t change anything overnight,” he said via email, “No matter how long I photographed on East 100th St., it wasn’t going to change that fast.”

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