Carolyn Drake was born in California and is now based in Athens, Georgia. She studied Media/Culture and History in the 1990s at Brown University, where she became interested in approaches to documentary and the ways that history and reality are purposefully shaped and revised over time. Drake worked for multimedia companies in New York for many years, but eventually left her office job to engage with the physical world through photography. Between 2007 and 2013, Carolyn traveled frequently to Central Asia from her base in Istanbul to work on two projects which became acclaimed photo books. The first, Two Rivers, explores the connections between ecology, culture and political power along the Amu Dary and Syr Darya rivers. The second, Wild Pigeon, is an amalgam of photographs, drawings, and embroideries made in collaboration with Uyghurs in western China. Carolyn is the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, the Lange-Taylor Prize, a World Press Photo award, a Magnum Emergency Fund grant, and a Fulbright fellowship, among other awards. Carolyn became a Magnum Nominee in 2015.
Carolyn Drake is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, the Lange Taylor Documentary Prize and a World Press Photo award, and she was a finalist for the Santa Fe Prize. She has spent years documenting the cultures of Central Asia and life in western China’s Uygur region.