ABOUT

The Ku Klux Klan rallying in support of a Black man’s execution in Texas. The North Carolina death row warden wheeling a gurney into the execution chamber. Georgia's execution of an innocent man.  Weeping family members at the moment of a loved one’s execution.

These are just a few of the images captured in Scott Langley’s chilling death penalty photo documentary project, which is the most comprehensive collection of original death penalty photographs available from one source.

The documentary includes execution vigils, inside an execution chamber, the hours leading up to an execution, portraits of exonerated death row prisoners, celebrities opposed to the death penalty, marches, demonstrations and candid emotional and prayerful moments in the context of the death penalty in the United States.

The project started in 1999 and continues today. Read on for more.

THE PROJECT

The execution of Troy Davis in Georgia in 2011
The execution of Troy Davis in Georgia in 2011

Executions in the United States are not public events. Photography has never been allowed in prison death chambers during executions in modern times. Coupled with the fact that many executions take place in the middle of the night and are sanitized by the government for the media, very few people see or experience the full extent of what transpires when the state carries out a death sentence.

Originally conceived as a college class assignment, more than two-decades later Scott is still capturing moments both inside and outside of prisons during executions – telling the story of what occurs when the government kills its prisoners and who the process impacts.

The project consists of thousands of images, making it the largest photo documentary ever about the death penalty's modern era in the United States – bringing together the unique combination of photography, journalism and education into one powerful project.

The project is Scott's effort as an independent photojournalist and as a social justice advocate to expose the reality of capital punishment through a sociological and human rights lens.

The photos are used regularly by organizations, schools, book publishers, filmmakers, and news outlets. With printed exhibits available on loan, the photos have been displayed in hundreds of schools, libraries and galleries throughout the United States and exhibited in over a dozen countries around the world.

View a partial list of exhibits, publications, and presentation venues.

THE PHOTOGRAPHER

Scott Langley presenting at a university.
Scott Langley presenting at a university (photo by Donald Halsing)

Scott Langley is a freelance photojournalist based in New York.  His documentary work has been widespread throughout the world – providing images to publications, educational institutions, galleries, churches, filmmakers and national organizations. His long-term project documenting the death penalty is his passion and primary focus.

In addition to work as a documentary photographer, Scott has been an active organizer and advocate against the death penalty since 1999. For more than 15 years, Scott has served as a volunteer Amnesty International USA death penalty abolition coordinator in a number of states, and in 2017, he co-founded Death Penalty Action, a national organization working to end executions and provide visibility on the issue.

Besides organizing work, Scott has also worked closely with impacted communities, having co-founded a hospitality house in North Carolina to provide support to families of death row prisoners, and has also served as chair of the board of directors for Journey of Hope... From Violence to Healing, an organization of murder victim family members.

Scott travels within and outside the U.S. to speak about capital punishment, his experiences around executions, his work with death row families and murder victim families, and about his photography documentary project.

He currently is a professional event and portrait photographer, whose work can be found at scottlangleyphoto.com. His photo and academic resume is here (PDF).

ABOUT

The Ku Klux Klan rallying in support of a Black man’s execution in Texas. The North Carolina death row warden wheeling a gurney into the execution chamber. Georgia's execution of an innocent man.  Weeping family members at the moment of a loved one’s execution.

These are just a few of the images captured in Scott Langley’s chilling death penalty documentary photography project, which is the most comprehensive collection of original death penalty photographs available from one source.

The documentary includes execution vigils, inside an execution chamber, the hours leading up to an execution, portraits of exonerated death row prisoners, celebrities opposed to the death penalty, marches, demonstrations and candid emotional and prayerful moments in the context of the death penalty in the United States.

The project started in 1999 and continues today. Read on for more.

THE PROJECT

The execution of Troy Davis in Georgia in 2011
The execution of Troy Davis in Georgia in 2011

Executions in the United States are not public events. Photography has never been allowed in prison death chambers during executions in modern times. Coupled with the fact that many executions take place in the middle of the night and are sanitized by the government for the media, very few people see or experience the full extent of what transpires when the state carries out a death sentence.

Originally conceived as a college class assignment, more than two-decades later Scott is still capturing moments both inside and outside of prisons during executions – telling the story of what occurs when the government kills its prisoners and who the process impacts.

The project consists of thousands of images, making it the largest photo documentary ever about the death penalty's modern era in the United States – bringing together the unique combination of photography, journalism and education into one powerful project.

The project is Scott's effort as an independent photojournalist and as a social justice advocate to expose the reality of capital punishment through a sociological and human rights lens.

The photos are used regularly by organizations, schools, book publishers, filmmakers, and news outlets. With printed exhibits available on loan, the photos have been displayed in hundreds of schools, libraries and galleries throughout the United States and exhibited in over a dozen countries around the world.

View a partial list of exhibits, publications, and presentation venues.

THE PHOTOGRAPHER

Scott Langley presenting at a university.
Scott Langley presenting at a university (photo by Donald Halsing)

Scott Langley is a freelance photojournalist based in New York.  His documentary work has been widespread throughout the world – providing images to publications, educational institutions, galleries, churches, filmmakers and national organizations. His long-term project documenting the death penalty is his passion and primary focus.

In addition to work as a documentary photographer, Scott has been an active organizer and advocate against the death penalty since 1999. For more than 15 years, Scott has served as a volunteer Amnesty International USA death penalty abolition coordinator in a number of states, and in 2017, he co-founded Death Penalty Action, a national organization working to end executions and provide visibility on the issue.

Besides organizing work, Scott has also worked closely with impacted communities, having co-founded a hospitality house in North Carolina to provide support to families of death row prisoners, and has also served as chair of the board of directors for Journey of Hope... From Violence to Healing, an organization of murder victim family members.

Scott travels within and outside the U.S. to speak about capital punishment, his experiences around executions, his work with death row families and murder victim families, and about his photography documentary project.

He currently is a professional event and portrait photographer, whose work can be found at scottlangleyphoto.com. His photo and academic resume is here (PDF).

Read praise for the project and academic reviews here.

View featured photo galleries and essays here.

For featured articles about Scott's work on the death penalty:

See a partial list of exhibitions, presentations and where the project has been used here.

INSPIRATION

Pursuing a photo documentary on the death penalty is not an original idea. Many great photographers have embarked on the journey of photographing everything from death houses to death row prisoners. The particular trailblazing field work of photographers such as Lou Jones, Ken Light, Alan Pogue, Lauren Santow, David Leeson and Lucinda Devlin are an inspiration to this project and to many across the world.

"It would become harder to execute men one after another, as is done in our country today, if those executions were translated into vivid images in the popular imagination." ~ Albert Camus

"Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it." ~ Bertolt Brecht

INSPIRATION

Pursuing a photo documentary on the death penalty is not an original idea. Many great photographers have embarked on the journey of photographing everything from death houses to death row prisoners. The particular trailblazing field work of photographers such as Lou Jones, Ken Light, Alan Pogue, Lauren Santow, David Leeson and Lucinda Devlin are an inspiration to this project and to many across the world.

"It would become harder to execute men one after another, as is done in our country today, if those executions were translated into vivid images in the popular imagination." ~ Albert Camus

"Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it." ~ Bertolt Brecht

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