Jim Goldberg on reflection and reinvention

Two decades on from his seminal series Raised by Wolves, Jim Goldberg’s new book, Fingerprint, looks back at his time spent documenting California’s forgotten youth with a collection of previously unseen polaroids. Here, the photographer discusses what he’s learned

Jim Goldberg has forged a career out of shining a light on people who exist on the fringes. Over the last 40 years, the American photographer has used his experimental approach – which typically combines documentary style imagery with handwritten scribbles – to tell the stories of people who are otherwise treated as invisible by mainstream society.

Goldberg’s first venture into photography was more of a happy accident than a conscious career choice, when he opted to take a course in it alongside his theology major in the early 70s. After being encouraged by his teacher he decided to pursue it full time, and by 1977 had already begun one of his best known series, Rich and Poor. Shot over seven years, the series juxtaposed portraits of the San Francisco Bay Area’s wealthiest residents against its poorest, and was the first project to feature the photographer’s trademark hand-scrawled commentary.

All images: Untitled Polaroid from Raised by Wolves © Jim Goldberg