Debbie Fleming Caffery Biography

Debbie Fleming Caffery is an American documentary photographer. Born in 1948, Caffery grew up in Southwest Louisiana along the Bayou Teche, an area which has come to greatly inspire her creative outputs. Caffery still lives and works in the area to this day.

One of Caffery’s biggest influences as a young photographer was the work of Dorothea Lange. Lange worked for the FSA and Federal Arts Projects during the Depression-era, to document stories through photographs. Debbie Fleming Caffery continued this tradition of documentary photography whilst reinvigorating the practice with her unique artistry and humanistic lens.

Debbie Fleming Caffery’s work is bold, dramatic, and captivating. Her images are deeply poetic and imbued with a mysticism that results from the artist’s exemplary use of shadow, tonality, and her unique ability to capture motion in her photographs.

Caffery’s subject interests include the Louisiana sugarcane industry, which she has been photographing since the 1970s. Caffery has also participated in photographic projects in rural Mexico, and her work often draws on socio-cultural connections between these two locations.

Debbie Fleming Caffery photographs are held in numerous public and private collections, most notably, by the Museum of Modern Art, George Eastman Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, New York Public Library, the Smithsonian, American Art Museum, and the Harvard Art Museums. The artist was also commissioned to participate in the High Museum of Atlanta’s Picturing the South initiative which remains on view until February 2022.

Debbie Fleming Caffery’s work has received wide acclaim and Caffery is the recipient of many awards including the 2005 Guggenheim Fellowship for her work in Mexican brothels, the 2006 Katrina Media Fellowship for her work photographing the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, as well as the Lou Stoumen Award from the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, and the Michael P. Smith Documentary Photography award.

Caffery’s work has been published in a number of photographic monographs including Carry Me Home (1990), The Shadows (2002), The Spirit and the Flesh (2009), and Alphabet (2015).