Lyon’s early documentary career was established and defined by his gritty photographer-as-participant approach. His first book, The Movement (1964), evolved from his experiences as a staff photographer for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee during the Civil Rights Movement. In the Bikeriders series(1968) Lyon rode and lived with the bikers he photographed. Lyon’s work belies the standard detachment of documentary humanism and objectivism in favor of a more complicated subjective involvement.
Danny Lyon’s photojournalistic style is marked by its staunch pursuit of the unembellished moment. “You put a camera in my hand, I want to get close to people,” he said. “Not just physically close, emotionally close, all of it. It’s part of the process."
DOCUMERICA was a program sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency to photographically document subjects of environmental concern in America from about 1972 to 1977. Lyon photographed America's inner city, it's ghettos and it's slums showing the lives and humanity of the young people who resided there.
After years of continued critical success, books and exhibitions Lyon now takes things easier. Although he's still working, he fishes quite a bit these days, in the Chama Valley in New Mexico and in Maine, where he has a cabin.