I worked as a photojournalist for several decades and much of my work was self-generated documentary photojounrlism, focusing on individuals whose daily struggles breathed live into statistics and current events.

           My work took me inside the lives of people who granted me that privilege. I brought a passion to my work, whether covering international stories in the Middle East, Eastern Euroope, Asia, and Cuba, or stories in my own community.

            I photographed and wrote about the impact of war.

            I focused on stories about aging.

            I was always drawn to stories about public health issues

              I loved photographing ballet.

             I loved photographing basketball.

            I loved photographing the rock formations of the American southewest.


           During my photojournalism career I traveled extensively to conflict and crisis zones. After the US invasion of Iraq in 2013, I traveled to Iraq twice to cover the war, both times working independently of the military and focusing of the toll of the war on civilians. I had also covered the first Gulf War,  photograping refugees in Jordan who had fled Kuwait when Iraq invaded. After that conflict ended I traveled to Kuwait and southern Iraq to cover the aftermath. 

        After I returned from Iraq in 2004 much of my work focused on the impact of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on people living in the Bay Area -- wounded service members, veterans, military families, and Iraqi refugees. 

        At some point I began to listen to that voice within that had been telling me for years “you should do more.” I wanted to embark on a new career that would allow me to be more hands on as an advocate in a way that journalism would not allow. So I made the decision to pursue a Master of Public Health (MPH) in 2010 with a focus on the public health effects of war. After completing my MPH at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, I returned to California and entered the Public Health PhD program at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) in 2012 and completed my doctorate in 2018.

        I always treasured the power of photojournalism and documentary photography to inspire others to alleviate suffering and to take action to make the world a better place. But now I want to be the one who takes that action, inspired not only by my own work in the past,  but by the people whose lives left indelible imprints on me. I hope to combine the skills that made me a successful photojournalist - my research, communication, interview, advocacy, and storytelling skills as well as my strength in framing issues - with my new technical and qualitative public health expertise. 

      One of the wonderful things about being a photojournalist was that I covered a wide range of stories - from the impact of tragedy to the joy of dance. It took me on a journey to a world that I could never have even dreamt about when I started my career.  I’ll always be grateful for that and its role in sending me on this new path.













Pauline Lubens