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An American Passion

Camilo Jose Vergara has been photographing America's urban neighborhoods for more than 30 years. He's often compared to Jacob Riis, one of the first and most famous social documentarians of the last century. Riis published the groundbreaking work of photojournalism How The Other Half Lives in 1890. And just a few years ago, Vergara published his How The Other Half Worships. Listen to the radio story here.

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Vergara is interested in how places change — how storefronts become churches, and how churches change identity from one religion to another. In going through his archives, something else caught his eye: images of Jesus from all over the country. Although not a religious person, Vergara has found great significance in the diversity of these images, and in the commonalities. He wanted to tell a story, but decided to let the Bible do the work. Arranged in the order of the Passion of Christ, these images also tell the story of, as Vergara puts it, "an American passion." Put your headphones on and listen to his commentary.

On his site, you can explore places like Harlem, N.Y., and Camden, N.J., which he has painstakingly documented building by building, block by block, year after year. And an upcoming exhibit at the National Building Museum in D.C. will feature his photos of Storefront Churches.