4th Place Award in the “Black Lives Matter” category. Photo by Lisa Coker, United States.

Lisa Coker

Award-winning photography by Lisa Coker

My affinity for making pictures began in the coastal boonies of the Leeward side of O’ahu, Hawaii; in a town called Wai’anae, where I was born and raised. Growing up across from a green onion farm, with dogs and chickens to care for, and laundry to hang on the line, I cultivated a natural inclination towards the simple things in life. This simplicity is evident in my process and my practice as I’m often drawn to moments of intimacy, stillness, and joy. Like most origin stories, there are layers of complexity woven into the fabric of childhood that later wears on in adulthood. Having lost my father at the age of 11, and then my grandmother 6 months later, my family was propelled into a state of survival. I felt powerless but learned to absorb my trauma, delay my grief and cope through humor and art. The art medium I fell upon was a camera. In a life scarred by unexpected tragedies, a camera offered a sense of control; a tool that allowed me to choose what to remember and what to forget; a tool that, with the subtle act of clicking, conditioned me to believe that the lack of permanence doesn’t have to be absolute. At the time, this was the solace I needed. My pursuit of photography has since developed into a passion for preserving ordinary family moments, creating a time capsule of memories that matter.

The Documentary Family Awards is an international competition in search of the insightful and meaningful ways that documentary photographers explore the interpretation of family.