Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Lewis W.Hine

Lewis W. Hine, a photographer who followed the steps of Jacob Riis took photography to another dimension, leaving aside the contemporary attributes of the 1800's. Having to face the demands of the Progressive Era, he approached photography with the intentions of recording history through the lives of workers in America. After years of dedication devoted to social reform, his pictures of child laborers were the ones that proved his influence in society. Being a “staff photographer for the National Labor Committee, Hine traveled tens of thousands of miles, gathering visual evidence of violations of child labor laws, often under trying circumstances”(Social Photography, Lewis W.Hine).

Social photography is not meant to entertain the eyes; it is work that is done to create consciousness to those of heart, even the heartless. It penetrates through the thoughts of an individual persuading them to make a change. A documentary photograph is not meant to be beautiful or altered; it is not an art of work, it is a proof of injustice. For Hines’, “Social photography was for him and educational process; a picture was a piece of evidence, a record of social injustice, but also of individual human beings surviving with dignity in intolerable conditions. “More than anyone else in his generation, Hine shaped a style for engaged, sympathetic social documentary photography, and thus provided a model for the famous Farm Security Administration” (Social Photography, Lewis W.Hine).

Even though social photography can serve as a tool of information, it can also move us and persuade us to make a change, perhaps create consciousness of the circumstances surrounding the lives of those who are captured behind the lenses of a camera. You can see a picture of a child with dirty clothes by himself sitting in a corner, and someone’s first reaction would be that the child does not have responsible parents, but if they look beyond and understand the circumstances that surrounds this child’s life, your interpretation can take you to a different dimension, bringing the factors of poverty to justify his conditions, the same factors that in many cases justified the hard work many children were destined to do in order to provide for themselves and help their families.

Now, let us take a glance under Brooklyn Bridge at 3 a.m. on a cold, snowy night. While these boys we see there wait, hudled, yet alert, for a customer, we might pause to ask where lies the power in a picture. Whether it be a painting or photograph, the picture is a symbol that brings one immediately into close touch with reality. It speaks a language learned early in the race and in the individual –witness the ancient picture writers and the child of today absorbed in his picture book. For us older children, the picture continues to tell a story packed in the most condensed and vital form. In fact, it is often more effective than the reality would have been, because, in the picture, the non-essential and conflicting interests have been eliminated. The picture is the language of all nationalities and all ages (Social Photography, Lewis H.Hine).

Social photography captures an image that makes you ponder beyond the limits of imagination, therefore, bringing you to a stage of awareness. It is not a moment that can be overlooked, social photography becomes static in the mind and it makes you analyze in depth the reasons of why the object or the person in the picture was of interest to the photographer. There are not assumptions on a social photograph, which is documented. There is always a need to look beyond and scrutinize what we will normally accept at a quick glance.


At 7:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

can you please tell me the ISBN number of social photography by lewis hine




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