Lewis Hine: an example of a social documentary photographer

Lewis Hine: an example of a social documentary photographer

Lewis Hine, a true inspiration as a photographer.

Social documentary photography did not start with Lewis Hine, but he was one of the early committed and social engaged photographers working to create positive social change,

Jorg Colberg at Contentious has posted on Lewis Hine and the collection of images in the Library of Congress that numbers approximately 5000 images, all created as part of his efforts in campaigning against child labour. He also has links to the efforts of Joe Manning (featured on Time Lightbox) in tracking down the subjects years later to see what became of them. Joe Manning’s own website can be found here at morningsonmaplestreet.com

National Child Labor Committee Collection

Lewis Hines images of child labour were made for the National Child Labor Committee and were used by the Committee. “Detested by factory managers who saw him as a nuisance and rabble-rouser..” (Vaughn Wallace) He had to sneak into the factories and workplaces sometimes by subterfuge and the result is a huge catalogue of images showing the practices of employers. This is an early example of how social documentary photography can be used to highlight ideas of capitalism as it was not considered at the time to be bad (by those who wanted cheap labour) to be employing children in this way in America. As an inspiration I have always been fascinated by Lewis Hines story and how he ended up living on benefits (the American term is Welfare) in poverty having done so much to help fight poverty himself.

The ICP (International Centre of Photography) in New York, has a current exhibition of Lewis Hine’s work on till the 19th of January 2014.





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