Pittsburgh Artist Registry

Martha Rial

Martha Rial

Artistic Category Artist

Edith Abyeta - Arts Excusions Unlimited 

Career Level Professional
Experienced With Collaboration, Lectures, Leading workshops, For-hire services, Commissions, Public art, Speaking engagements, Teaching engagements

I am a photographer who creates narratives with images that inspire and inform. People are my primary subjects, and social justice issues, from Pittsburgh to Africa, are a theme central to my work. Over the last thirty years, my photographs have ultimately shown me the incomparable power of the image to create lasting change.


My goal is not to alter situations with my presence, but to reveal the intimacy of humankind’s everyday struggles and joys. Some of the struggles I have documented include access to education, migration and protection of the environment.

I work hard to go beyond the stereotype usually depicted in those struggles and find the joy in the humanity that bonds us all.


I now want to build a second career as a fine art photographer. I want audiences who may only be familiar with my work as a former newspaper photographer to see how I have deepened my commitment to documenting global issues that impact all of us. I believe that this creates work that is poignant and authentic – work that will transform the lives of others.

I first fell in love with the power and grace of photography as a teenager studying images in Life and Look magazines. My desire to tell compelling stories has taken me from the mountains of Haiti to African villages to the streets of my hometown of Pittsburgh, a city of colorful characters and distinct topography. My photographs have received international acclaim, including a Pulitzer Prize for work documenting the lives of Burundian and Rwandan survivors of the 1994 genocide.

I specialize in documentary and portrait photography. Working mostly on location, I enjoy photographing people and exploring the communities where they live, work and play. 

Recently I contributed to The Marcellus Shale Documentary Project, a traveling exhibition of photographs chronicling the impact of the shale gas drilling in Pennsylvania. The project was funded by The Sprout Fund, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments. I was also selected as one of the photographers for the Downtown Now Photography Project, a special initiative of The Heinz Endowments.

My work has been exhibited at the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Mattress Factory, Silver Eye Center for Photography and the Hewlett Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University. My photographs are included in the permanent collections of Carnegie Museum of Art, Newseum, BNY Mellon and numerous private collections. 

Previously I worked as a staff photographer for the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. My work has earned the Scripps Howard Foundation Award for Photojournalism, a National Headliner Award and the Distinguished Visual Award from the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors. I was also named Pennsylvania News Photographer of the Year.

I have been a master class instructor at the Chautauqua Institution and I have also taught at Carnegie Mellon University, Western Kentucky University's Mountain Workshop, the Sundance Photographic Workshops and Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s “South of 64” Workshop and Pittsburgh Filmmakers. 

I have a BFA in Visual Communications from Ohio University.

In 2017, I recieved a Doctor of Humane Letters (Honorary) from Point Park University.  



Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15218
(412) 995-0059


  • Photography
  • Light
  • Public Art


  • Documentary
  • Narrative
  • Americana
  • Cultural
  • Digital
  • Light
  • Mural
  • Biographical
  • Feminist