Susan Madden Lankford grew up in the Midwest and holds a BS degree from the University of Nebraska. Originally a pre-med candidate, she developed a strong interest in science and laboratory research. A purchase of a second-hand Hasselblad added to her panoply of tools to pursue her exploration of life but soon created an artistic passion and led to postgraduate studies in photography.
Early on, Lankford attended workshops with renowned masters RoyDeCarava in Yosemite and Richard Misrach and Judy Dater in Carmel. She found work in wildlife photography, documenting Arctic polar bear migration and wildlife habitats in Montana, Colorado, California, and Canada. With a family of her own limiting the amount of travel time, she developed a successful portrait business. This continued when the family moved to San Diego where she also studied with Arnold Newman and attended professional workshops at the Brooks Institute of Photography, in Santa Barbara.
Although fascinated with habitats, spaces, and behavior, she felt compelled to seek a counterpoint truth to the portraits of children and families. She did not set out to document the pain and suffering of our society's castaways -- the homeless and the emotionally or physically incarcerated. She simply wanted to pursue her quest for understanding the frail values of a society at risk and of people increasingly immune to human flotsam.
Quickly she found herself with willing subjects who led her on guided tours of the worst of the city streets, shelters and rescue missions to see life from their vantage point. The result is downTown U.S.A.: A Personal Journey with the Homeless, the second in a trilogy of books on crucial social issues published by Humane Exposures Publishing. Lankford’s thought-provoking photographs, rich personal narrative, and candid interviews are supplemented by writings by the street people themselves, creating a complex, compelling portrait of a population at risk.
Lankford’s first book in the trilogy, led to a new mission—to follow her subjects behind bars. This result is the prizewinning MAGGOTS IN MY SWEET POTATOES: Women Doing Time, an in-depth and illuminating look at the lives of incarcerated women.
With the publication of downTown U.S.A., Lankford will turn to the final volume of the Humane Exposures trilogy, BORN NOT RAISED, exploring the troubled psyches of young people serving time in juvenile hall. The goal of these powerful books is to trigger public awareness of the needs and challenges of at-risk members of our society, and to help break the cycle of homelessness, incarceration, and abuse.
To find out more about Susan Lankford, or to purchase her books, please visit Humane Exposures Publishing at: www.humaneexposures.com
“Lankford’s leadership and work help us all to identify the emotional and psychological cycles that pass from generation to generation”. --Dave Pelzer, NY Times Bestselling author, A Child Called “It” and Lost Boy.