In 2000, Lynn Johnson began documenting the places where extreme acts of violence took place in the United States for her Master’s degree thesis at the School of Visual Communication at Ohio University. Her project, “Hate Kills,” took her to locations where hate crimes had occurred, such as the scene where white supremacists murdered James Byrd, Jr., an African American, by chaining him to a pickup truck and dragging him on the road.

“I used that very dark documentary approach—that style—for my thesis,” she explained. She continued this approach while photographing, “The Science of Good and Evil”, for National Geographic magazine’s 2018 January issue. Johnson found that this assignment centered on listening. “There is just listening to the place, the space, the terrain, the invisible presence of what is left there,” she said.

“I think it’s so germane because as a country, we are experiencing more violence, more toxicity in our relationships with each other,” Johnson said. In 2017, there were 30 active shooter incidents in the United States killing 138 and wounding 591, according to the FBI.

Artist Bios

  • Lynn Johnson

    Lynn Johnson

    Lynn Johnson photographs the human condition. A regular contributor to National Geographic, she is known for finding beauty and meaning in elusive, difficult subjects—threatened languages, zoonotic disease, rape in the military ranks, the centrality of water in village life, mysteries of the brain. Hate Kills, her master’s thesis as a Knight Fellow at Ohio University, probed the impact of hate crimes. At National Geographic Photo Camps, she helps at-risk youth find their creative voices. And at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications, she developed and teaches a program that challenges master’s students to push past their comfort levels in pursuit of their stories’ truth. She herself is committed to that search frame by frame. Johnson has worked for LIFE and Sports Illustrated and published 36 feature stories in National Geographic Magazine. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Robert F. Kennedy Award and Pulitzer finalist on two occasions.


  • National Geographic

    National Geographic

    Established in 1888, National Geographic is a trusted print and digital publication offering stories that illuminate, inspire, and reveal. Our mission is to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of cultures, the sciences, and the natural world. We advance that mission by creating visually stunning, richly reported photojournalism and distinguished, impartial coverage of the globe’s most pressing issues. National Geographic, the most popular brand on Instagram, has more than 215 million followers.

The Geography of Hate

 archive : 2018

Featuring: Lynn Johnson

Curated by: Kurt Mutchler

Presented by: National Geographic
  • National Geographic


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Sep 202018

“The Geography of Hate” Talk

Immerse yourself in a visual story like no other with Lynn Johnson. In 2000 Lynn began documenting the places where extreme acts of violence took place in the United States for Master’s degree thesis at the School of Visual Communication at Ohio University.

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