Headshot of photographer and journalist Brian Palmer, taken by Erin Hollaway Palmer
Photo courtesy of Erin Hollaway Palmer

The George Gund Foundation has commissioned Brian Palmer to capture democracy in Cleveland, which is the Foundation's theme for 2020.

Palmer (b. 1964, Queens, NY) is a photographer and award-winning journalist based in Richmond, Virginia. He strives to tell stories that might not otherwise be told—stories of conflict, activism, and daily life. His multimedia approach unites narratives and images, bridging the two to unite comprehensive storytelling and thorough investigation.

Brian Palmer photograph of female protestor looking at police chief in crowd of protestors
City Hall protest with mayor and police chief in Richmond, VA

His candid style of photography is primarily concerned with documenting the people and events he encounters. A significant part of his photographic portfolio has been devoted to documenting the uncovering of neglected African American cemeteries and plots. This work raises questions of democracy and equality as the adjacent Confederate (and formerly segregated) cemeteries and plots are well-maintained.

Brian Palmer photograph of two volunteers clearing grave sites for the East End Cemetery project
East End Cemetery project

This work has evolved alongside his journalistic investigation of publicly funded Confederate monuments in the South. His body of work included “Monumental Lies,” an episode of the podcast Reveal by Type Investigations for The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX that won Palmer and his collaborator Seth Freed Wessler the prestigious Peabody Award.

Palmer is a visiting professor of journalism at the University of Richmond. Current projects include Make the Ground Talk, a documentary produced in partnership with his wife, Erin Hollaway Palmer, that examines life in a historic black community that was uprooted during World War II to build a naval base. Before going freelance in 2002, Palmer was a CNN correspondent and the Beijing bureau chief for US News & World Report. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine, Buzzfeed, The Nation, and elsewhere.

Palmer plans to make at two trips to Cleveland, including one trip prior to the presidential election, to capture images that speak to democracy in this moment in time. His work will be showcased on The George Gund Foundation website, which is updated annually in response to the commission and which is slated for launch in Fall 2021.

Visit the Foundation’s website today to see Deana Lawson’s Birthing Beautiful Communities, a photographic essay on maternal health and prenatal care.

Brian Palmer photograph of protestors in front of Marcus-David Peters Circle in Richmond, VA with trumpeter in foreground
Marcus-David Peters Circle in Richmond, VA