Renee C. Byer

RENÉE C. BYER is an award-winning documentary photojournalist and Emmy nominated multimedia field producer best known for her in-depth work focusing on the disadvantaged and those who otherwise would not be heard. In 2007, she received the Pulitzer Prize Feature Photography for “A Mother’s Journey”. She has won dozens of national and international honors, including the World Understanding Award from Pictures of the Year International, and Pulitzer Finalist in 2013 for “A Grandfather’s Sorrow and Love”. In 2017, her “No Safe Place” got an Emmy nomination.
Byer’s stories have deepened our understanding of the environment, climate change, extreme poverty, genetically modified food, healthcare, women at war, domestic violence, and the drought and economic crisis in California. In 2016 the Sacramento Bee published a 20-page special section No Safe Place featuring her images chronicling the plight of Afghan SIV's as they struggle in the U.S., facing poverty and violence. Her images from that project were exhibited at Visa Pour L'Image the premiere photojournalism festival in Perpignan, France in 2017.

Byer’s internationally acclaimed book, Living on a Dollar a Day:  The Lives and Faces of the World's Poor, illuminates the stories of people living on the brink of survival, and invites you to put an end to extreme poverty. Among several honors the book won First Place Documentary Book from the International Photography Awards in 2014.

Renée is the founder of the 501c3 non profit Positive Change Can Happenthat supports her interactive traveling exhibition, drawn from Living on a Dollar, and inspires viewers through compassion, education and social action.  In February 2017 it debuted with the Youbridge.itmobile web application at MMTH Gallery and Atrium at Western Kentucky University and in April on CBS Sunday Morning.

3 words to describe Nature?

Inspiring. Breathtaking. Organic

3 things Nature taught you?

Live in the moment.

It’s a gift that deserves respect and protection.

Gratitude especially after traveling the world and realizing some people don’t even get to experience the breath and smell of fresh air.

3 most treasured Nature spots?

The lake and trails at Mohonk Mountain House in the Hudson Valley, NY

Maui, Hawaii

Yosemite National Park

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

At peace and amazed about all that lives below the surface.

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?


When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Cautious and in awe

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Grateful and happy

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Thankful I live in a place that doesn’t have extreme lightning, or dangerous storms.

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you Feel?

Anxious and alert

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?


On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

10! Nature soothes my soul, inspires, challenges, amazes and humbles me.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

My mother loved the outdoors and instilled the fun of playing outside especially in the winter. I cherish the days I would cross country ski, skate on lakes and play ice hockey, and sled until my mittens were so caked with snow I had to go inside and put them on the heater to thaw, so I could go back out again! The pristine beauty of fresh snow and crisp winter air always gave me a sense of renewal.