Kael Alford of Oak Cliff won the 2012 Michael P. Smith Fund for Documentary Photography Award, given to a photographer whose work “combines artistic excellence and a sustained commitment to long-term cultural documentary project.”

Alford’s winning photos were taken in coastal Louisiana. She first visited the region in 2005, on assignment for a Dutch magazine to document the affects of Hurricane Katrina.

“While on location, she visited an area of the coast where her maternal grandmother had been born that is still home to the Native American communities of which Alford is a descendant,” the jurors’ essay states. “What she discovered there would become the subject of a multi-year documentary project to record the rapidly disappearing cultural and physical landscape of the region.”

Alford, who is an adjunct professor at SMU, plans to use the $5,000 award to fund her ongoing project in Louisiana.

Her work recently has been compiled into a book, Bottom of da Boot, which is available from Fall Line Press. Some of the photos currently are on display at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. And her work covering the Iraq War is included in the book Unembedded: Four Independent Photojournalists on the War in Iraq.