Michael is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning photographer who joined The Washington Post in 1993 after working for the Sacramento Bee from 1975-1991. He taught at Western Kentucky University (1991-93).Williamson has covered a variety of global events in the last 40 years, including the wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua; the Philippine revolution; strife in the Middle East; the Gulf War; and conflicts in Africa, The Balkans and Asia.
In 1994, he won the National Press Photographers Association’s Crystal Eagle Award, which recognizes photography that has had a documented effect on society. Williamson won for a 15-year project on homelessness in America.
The NPPA named Williamson the Newspaper Photographer of the Year in 1995. In 2000, he was named White House News Photographer’s Association’s Photographer of the Year. His work on the homeless and poor yielded several books, including, And Their Children After Them, coauthored with Dale Maharidge, which won the 1990 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction. Another book, also with Maharidge, Journey to Nowhere: The Saga of the New Underclass, was published in 1985.
Two more book collaborations with Maharidge produced Homeland, which was published in 2004 in the United States and in 2005 in Italy; and Denison, Iowa, released in 2005. Another book project, The Lincoln Highway, with Michael Wallis, was released in 2007. His photo essay Old Dogs Are the Best Dogs, was published by Simon and Schuster in October 2008 and sold over 100,000 hard cover editions.
His most recent book with Maharidge is Someplace Like America: Tales From the New Great Depression. The book is a result of a 30-year collaboration documenting the plight of jobless, homeless and working Americans. It was released in June of 2011 by The University of California Press with a forward written by Bruce Springsteen. A 30th anniversary edition of the Pulitzer winning book And Their Children After Them (with Dale Maharidge) was re-issued by Seven Stories Press in March, 2020.
Williamson is the father of three daughters. The two oldest, Sophia and Valerie are currently attending college in Ohio. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with his wife Alison and daughter Rose Mae.