Written and Photographed Ben Elwes


Divided States

A Photographic Journey to the Heart of the US Presidential Election 2016

(31st October – 7th December)

Winner of the International Photography Award 2020

Professional Book |  Documentary Category


As a British photographer, partly based in Mexico, I had always dreamed of making a photographic road trip through the USA. When the 2016 US presidential election became the increasing focus of the world’s attention, in a year that had already seen the United Kingdom voting to leave the European Union, my instinct was to be there.

So, I packed my cameras and flew to Reynosa, from where I crossed the border into the USA arriving in Brownsville on Halloween, where the journey starts. I would drive 8,000 miles by car in 5 weeks, covering 13 American states as well as Washington, DC.

Divided States
Ben Elwes

The publication Divided States represents the fruits of my journey: 224 pages containing 157 still images and 18,000 words of text.

Divided States takes us back to a moment when Donald Trump’s victory felt improbable, which in retrospect now feels like a time of innocence or naivety, a different era. On 8th November 2016, he was confirmed president-elect. Divided States is significant as it visually evokes the seconds before America set off on what has turned out to be one of the darkest periods of its history with the firestorm of the Trump presidency. The images viscerally drop you right back into a critical moment of change in American history, vividly taking us back to where the current situation began. This was the moment when America changed and the world with it. Few if any of the people that I encountered on my journey could have imagined the tumultuous events, the twists and turns that would ensue. It is timely too as we now witness the ferocious nature of the 2020 US presidential election and its protracted outcome playing out in front of us in the bleak shadow of the coronavirus pandemic.


 Divided States

Kickstarter Campaign 



Ben Elwes

Ben Elwes’ work is published by Section Press. Divided States is his fourth book, following on from Monday Market, All That Matters and Open & Closed. His photographs have been exhibited at national and international venues, including the National Portrait Gallery and The Photographers’ Gallery in London, Frölunda Kulturhaus in Göthenburg, Sweden and Fetart in Arles and Paris. He currently divides his time between Europe and Mexico, where his work has been shown in a number of government institutions and private galleries, including the Centro Cultural Manuel Gómez Morín in Querétaro and Fifi Projects in Mexico City. www.benelwesphoto.com





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