Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

At Miller Children's Hospital in Long Beach, Erica Miranda waits for her bandage to be changed. The 10-year-old was shot three times in the back, knee and hip while playing basketball outside her home in Compton in what police believe was a gang assault. A 17-year-old relative of her stepfather and a 45-year-old family friend were also shot three times and survived.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

Jamiel Shaw Sr. kneels before his son's coffin. Standing, from left, are the victim's mother, Anitia Shaw, brother Thomas and aunt Althea Shaw. "To see my son lying there a be shot, slaughtered like a makes you want to go out there and just round up everybody that's in a gang and makes you want to be a crime fighter." On the same day as Jamiel "Jas" Shaw II's funeral, 19-year-old Pedro Espinoza was formally charged in the slaying.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

Blood coats the floor and walls of a bathroom in Lancaster where a 14-year-old girl was shot. Local residents had decided to throw a party in a vacant home and charge an entry fee. The gunfire killed Dominique Peatry and left six others injured.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

Miracle lifts her mother's leg as Rose Smith slides into her wheelchair. A bullet had just missed Miracle in the womb, and she was born addicted to her mother's pain medication. The family reserved stem cells from the umbilical cord in hopes that doctors may one day use them to help restore feeling in Smith's spine.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

In the days after Melody Ross was shot to death outside her high school's homecoming football game, there were candlelight vigils as well as bake sales to help raise money for the funeral. In Melody's honor, songs and raps were written and filmed and sent over the Internet. Thousands of mourners poured their emotions out on a memorial Web page, communicating with her as if she were reading their words.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

Tori Rowles, center, flanked by her brother Forrest Rowles and friend Kat Mokry, watches her best friend be buried. Tori and Melody Ross, 16, were inseparable. They planned to go to college together and become fashion designers. Tori was standing next to Melody when she was hit by a stray bullet. "She was taken away by two gang people, and they had no idea how many people they hurt," Tori said. "They hurt other people and other people's family and friends and the whole community."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

Sambo Che, Melody Ross's uncle, explains the irony of his niece's slaying: "My family and I escaped from one killing field in Cambodia to land in another." Two 16-year-old gang members have been charged as adults in the slaying.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

A dove is released at the memorial for 5-year-old Aaron Jerel Shannon Jr., who was hit in the head by a stray bullet on Halloween. Aaron had been modeling his new Spider-Man costume in the backyard of his South Los Angeles home. The boy's father and grandfather, his primary caretakers, are seated at left. Nearly 400 people gathered at the City of Refuge Church in Gardena to mourn for Aaron.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

Josue Hercules, 4, was playing with his sister outside their home in Los Angeles County when shots rang out. The children fled, but a bullet struck Josue in the back of the head. "Before the shooting, Josue was a calm boy," said his mother, Wendoly Andrade. Now, "he gets very angry...and fights with his siblings a lot."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

From left, Josue, Katherine, Kevin, Kimberlin and Oscar share a one-bedroom apartment with their mother. Since the shooting, Josue, who is easily frightened, insists on sleeping next to Katherine. Police called Katherine a hero for carrying Josue's limp body inside the house after the shooting. The two have developed a strong bond since that day.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

Josue's still stains the sidewalk as he and his sister Katherine wave to a passing ice cream truck. Upon seeing the stains, Josue has said to his mother, "A bad man shot me." For months following the shooting Katherine would draw pictures of her brother covered in blood.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

A wreath honoring Dannie Farber Jr. is given a prominent seat at the Narbonne High graduation ceremony. Farber, a wide receiver on the school's football team, died after he was shot three times while eating dinner in Compton, three weeks before graduation.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

Rashaun Williams, 29, weeps with exhaustion after coming home for the first time since she was shot. Williams had recently moved from South Los Angeles to Lancaster to keep her 6-year-old daughter away from gang violence. She was visiting her mother in South L.A. when she was hit by a stray bullet in a drive-by shooting.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

Pastor Wyman Jones of Sweet Hill Baptist Church in South Los Angeles carries a wooden cross through the Nickerson Gardens public housing complex to protest gang violence. Nickerson Gardens had seen a sustained lull in violence, but in 2009 and 2010 the area erupted once again, claiming the lives of at least six men.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

Je'Don Lasley, a junior receiver at Los Angeles High, chokes up as he delivers a pre-game prayer in the Romans' locker room in the team's first home game since Jamiel 'Jas' Shaw Jr. was killed. Jas used to lead the prayers.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

Edwin Cobbin, 17, was standing near his house in Hawthorne when two men drove up in an SUV, ordered him to empty his pockets and shot him several times. "Edwin was a good Christian boy. He loved God," his grandmother Helen Glee said. "He wasn't out there gangbanging."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

Miracle waves at her dad from the window. Her mother Rose Smith, paralyzed form the waist down by a gunshot wound, says, "Without Miracle, I don't know, I don't know if I could have made it through. She's a warrior just like her mom." Smith was three months pregnant when she was shot in the spine.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Derek Fender pulls over a suspected gang member while on patrol. In L.A. County, homicides fell by nearly one-fifth in the first half of 2010. But violence, especially gun violence, remains a plague.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

Albert Cobbin, left, and his brother Maddox play near where their brother Edwin was killed just days earlier. Albert "is always talking about the guys that did it. And he is always talking about the police. 'When are the police going to catch him?' " their grandmother said. "We have to explain that to him the best we know how."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

Jamiel Shaw Sr. and his son Thomas walk through the solemn halls of Inglewood Park Cemetery on what would have been Jas' 18th birthday. "I think my weakness is crying all the time thinking about him." Shaw said. "You can't be the same person anymore because Jas is what made me whole."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

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Los Angeles Times staff photographer Barbara Davidson has won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for feature photography. The announcements were made Monday at Columbia University in New York. Carol Guzy, Nikki Kahn and Ricky Carioti of the Washington Post won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography for their coverage of the earthquake in Haiti.

“It’s just fantastically surreal,” Davidson said from the crowded Los Angeles Times newsroom, where reporters and editors greeted the news of The Times’ Pulitzers with cheers. The newspaper also was awarded a Pulitzer for public service for its reporting on the scandal in the city of Bell.

“I’m humbled by the honor,” Davidson said of her Pulitzer, “and hope that it will raise awareness of the issue of gang violence and it’s impact on innocent victims.”

Davidson won for a series of images charting the odyssey of those cut down by street violence, many of them innocent victims.  Davidson spent nearly two years in fiercely private and insular communities such as South Los Angeles, Compton and Watts.

In the beginning, Davidson didn’t take her cameras out of her car for days at a time. Eventually, she became part of the community. She was summoned regularly by parents, pastors, gang-intervention workers and shooting victims. Sometimes they just needed to talk or sit quietly with someone.  Other times, they asked her to document birthday parties, funerals, visits to a cemetery.

Her empathy and her eye for composition made for intimate and extraordinary photographs.

Davidson’s “Caught in the Crossfire” shows Rose Smith, who can’t find the strength to tell her children that she will never walk again.  It shows the daughter who was in the womb when Smith was shot and was born addicted to her mother’s pain medication.

It shows 10-year-old Erica Miranda, staring shell-shocked from her hospital bed with a thick surgery scar snaking up her stomach.  It shows Jamiel Shaw Sr., kneeling, his eyes clamped shut, as he shares a final moment with his son, a high school football star gunned down by gang members. It shows little Josue Hercules, sleeping in a tight bundle next to the sister who had carried his limp body home after a stray bullet struck his head.

Once the photographs were published in the newspaper and online, dozens of readers called offering to help or donate clothing, furnishings, an electric wheelchair.  The Times’ website became a forum to discuss what might be done to end the bloodshed, whether hip-hop glorifies the gang world and whether social programs were helping or making the problem worse.

The gallery above is the portfolio submitted for judging in this year’s competition.

Fellow Times staff photographer Carolyn Cole was also nominated as a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography for a series of images documenting the human and ecological consequences of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.

A collection of previous Los Angeles Times photography winners and finalists can be viewed here.

Photo: Times picture editor Jeremiah Bogert congratulates Barbara Davidson, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for feature photography.

Video: Celebration in the Times’ newsroom. Credit: Albert Lee


  1. April 18, 2011, 12:55 pm

    Amazing images

    By: gingerliu
  2. April 18, 2011, 2:05 pm

    These photos are inexplicably haunting and moving. BRAVO to Barbara Davidson for the well-deserved award!

  3. April 18, 2011, 2:23 pm

    Bravo Barbara Davidson-

    Some very powerful images. Impeccable technique and a masterful example of the best of photo journalism.

  4. April 18, 2011, 2:44 pm

    Thank You Ms Davis for such amazing pictures. I having lost a loved one to violence a year ago found that you captured the pain and feelings of what families and victims go through when senseless killings and acts of violence occurs. I read the article when it was first published and found the pictures and video compelling, it seemed like a reflection of the pain mine and so many other families have gone through.
    Ruth Allen

    By: rurr
  5. April 18, 2011, 2:44 pm

    Congratulations. Thank you for these photos. I believe that the challenge in photography is capturing the feeling. You captured that feeling. The feeling of sorrow, pain, and anger. I hope to one day live in a Los Angeles that is free from gang violence.

    By: kpxfiles
  6. April 19, 2011, 5:31 am

    Thank you and congratulations. Your photos speak (shout) to the pain and sorrow that has sadly become routine for so many. Moreover, you capture tremendous strength and willpower of the human spirit.


    By: carolrcollins
  7. April 19, 2011, 8:59 am

    […] celebrated its recovery with two Pulitzers, one for Barbara Davidson’s brilliant and haunting portraits of Los Angeles gang violence and the award for public service for its investigation into the unusually high salaries awarded to […]

  8. April 19, 2011, 12:17 pm

  9. April 19, 2011, 4:27 pm

  10. August 31, 2011, 8:02 am

    its marvellous and its un discribed

    By: ravi.gaddam
  11. March 28, 2012, 11:37 am

    It's so nice that you photo journalists can laugh and smile and drink your champagne together while the people that earned you that gala party, the ones you used to gain your acclaim, and who live and die in ghastly tragedy, are no where to be seen.

    By: khink
  12. April 18, 2012, 12:23 pm

    I listened to the interview with Las Vegas Public Radio. I was moved. This is wonderful work. I wish these photos could be put into the hands of the people that need to see them – the people in the projects, the young men and women in gangs that need to see the ripple effect of their actions. Maybe it might make one gang member think twice, maybe it might make protect one person from being murdered or hurt. Everyone in the projects should have one of these photos send to their house with a publicly funded mail drop.

  13. June 24, 2012, 9:33 am

    I was 3 years old. I became a severe stutterer. I always wanted to save my 12 brother's and sister's from the inner-city ghetto violence. A miracle occurred! I was sent to Mill Valley, CA. The most beautiful Family in the entire World – opened up their door to me. I missed my family a great deal! I graduated from Tamalpais High School, College of Marin all with A – B's. I attended the University of Hawaii and made the dean's list and graduated. My deceased Mother and Father taught all of us Virtues, Respects, Loyalty, Patience Kindness Honor, the Best of Manner and never to take.

    A man pursuade me on campuse at the University of Hawaii, and that was the start of the Worst Violence.

    I would love to become a Make-Up Artist Tester for the Max . I love my son and daughter. I found true affectionate love 10 years ago with a #1 Prince. He's loveable, kind, gentle, caring, understanding, loves people and treats me like a Queen. Please Respond to my letter. 1-415-435-3065

  14. July 11, 2012, 7:33 pm

    […] Davidson is an award-winning and stunning Canadian photographer who works at the Los Angeles Times. Richard Koci Hernandez is a […]

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