Camilo José Vergara born in Chile and later he studied sociology at Notre Dame, and moved to New York in 1968.
He became a prolific street photographer in his spare time, documenting the gritty neighborhoods of the South Bronx and Lower East Side during a period of economic stagnation, poverty and urban decay.
While studying for his Master’s degree in sociology at Columbia, Vergara began to consider how he could use photography not just as a humanistic art but as a systematic method of documenting changes in the urban environment, and the changes in social behavior that come with them.
In the late 1970s, he developed a method of photographing neighborhoods in a straightforward, dispassionate manner, and rephotographing them over the years to track their transformations. He brought this methodology to studies of other economically depressed cities across the country. His life’s work has earned him a MacArthur “Genius Grant” and the National Humanities Medal.