Posts Tagged ‘photography’

In 2011, the Business Insider Australia put together a gallery of photos from the Second Great Depression. Their justification was that, “In 50 years, when historians write about this period. . .it will be photos like these that tell the story.”

Their idea was to assemble a collection that would serve the same purpose as the iconic photos of the first Great Depression (many of them having been carefully staged, edited, and cropped), which tell a particular story of that time and the people who fell victim to its widespread, dramatic, and devastating economic and social crises.

I decided to do the same for the current economic depression—even though, I fully understand, it’s far from being over. Actually, I started out by musing about the bread lines in the 1930s in comparison to the long lines outside food banks in recent weeks. Later, the idea expanded and I ended up with the following fifteen photos.

Clearly, these do not rise to the level of many of the photos from the first Great Depression, by such famous photographers as Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and Marion Post Wolcott. They’re all, with one exception (by Tom Barrett, the tenth one in the sequence, in Milwaukee), copied from online news media.

But together they do tell a story of these times. . .


G.E. employees and their families protest outside of Appliance Park in Louisville, KY

Cars line up in the parking lot at a drive-through food pantry at Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids, MI

A food bank at the Open Door Church of God in Christ in Brooklyn, NY


Amazon employees hold a protest over conditions at the company’s distribution facility on Staten Island, NY


Hew Kowalewski, a furloughed employee of Disney World, stands next to a window of his home in Kissimmee, FL


People who lost their jobs wait in line to file for unemployment benefits at an Arkansas Workforce Center in Fayetteville


Cashiers at a grocery store in Brooklyn, NY


A worker carries Amazon boxes in New York City


A tired healthcare worker is seen by the Brooklyn Hospital Center


Downer Theatre in Milwaukee, WI


34th Street in New York City


Passengers on the 24 Divisadero bus in San Francisco, CA


Central American migrants seeking asylum return to Mexico over the border bridge between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez


A pedestrian walks past graffiti that reads “Rent Strike” in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood


Milwaukee resident Jennifer Taff holds a sign as she waits in line to vote at Washington High School in Milwaukee, WI


Alessandro Portelli, “Harlan County/Kolkata” (November 2016)

by Alessandro Portelli [ht: db] at Jadavpur University in Kolkata


Matt Black, “Rainstorm” (York, Pennsylvania, 2015)
[York has a population of 43,718 and 37.1 percent live below the poverty level.]

This and other striking images of poverty in the United States by Matt Black are currently on show in a group exhibition, New Blood, at the Magnum Print Room in London.

Last summer Matt Black left the Central Valley of California, where he lives, to travel 18,000 miles across the US on a road trip that took him through 30 states and 70 of the poorest towns in America. The startling image of a hand resting on a fence post against a barren backdrop was taken in the small town of Allensworth, California, where 54% of the population of 471 people live below the poverty level.

“California always seemed special and unique in terms of how it symbolised promise and progress,” says Black, 45, during a break in shooting landscapes in Idaho, where he’s working on another stage of the same series, Geography of Poverty. “So it seemed somehow symbolic to begin there and travel east, but what has surprised me is the similarities I have encountered as I travelled from one community to another. All these diverse communities are connected, not least in their powerlessness. In the mainstream media, poverty is often looked at in isolation, but it is an American problem. It seems to me that it goes unreported because it does not fit the way America sees itself.”


Arthur Rothstein, “Resettlement Officials” (Maryland, 1935)

Bill McDowell is an American photographer and curator. For his series Ground, he chose images from the 175,000 commissioned by the U.S. Farm Security Administration in the 1930s and 40s—and was especially drawn to those Roy Stryker damaged with a hole punch to prevent their being used again.

McDowell compares the punched hole to “a portal [that] connects us to post-Depression America” in the wake of the 2007-08 global financial crash.


Here’s another photo from “1% Privilege in a Time of Global Inequality,” this one by Michael Light:

This gated community in Henderson, Nevada, shows “the environmental effects of our consumption and of our privileged lifestyles,” Little says. You can create an oasis in the desert “if you add a tremendous amount of money and chemicals and water.”


Here’s another photo from “1% Privilege in a Time of Global Inequality,” this one by Paolo Woods and Gabriele Galimberti:

A man floats in a swimming pool atop Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands Hotel, the city’s financial district looming behind him. Little says that Singapore is a “tax haven”—a place “where it’s legal for major corporations to hide their money from the tax man.”


How do you photography to represent the grotesque levels of inequality in the world today?

According to Becky Little [ht: sm],

When people think of inequality, they often think first of the lives of the world’s poorest people. . .

1% Privilege in a Time of Global Inequality features 50 images from different photographers that show vast class disparities around the world. By mostly showcasing the wealthy, the book responds to previous photo collections that have documented the poor and struggling in an almost idolizing way.

“When we glamorize or hero-ize the bottom one percent, the struggling migrants, in a sense we accept their plight and say that we, in a sense, permit this to continue happening, this economic injustice,” says Myles Little, the book’s editor.

“Instead of turning people like that into icons or heroes,” he continues, “you might say instead that they are victims of a crime—and it’s not them that we should be interrogating, but maybe the people who put them there.”

As for the photo above, by Mitch Epstein,

A store advertises its going-out-of-business sale. “This is another image that, to me, speaks about the pressures of the middle class,” Little says. “The sadness of being of a hardworking family who is playing by the rules but who still can’t make it.”


Photo of the day

Posted: 25 September 2015 in Uncategorized
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798 800

Ten photographers have united for Action/2015 to offer their perspectives on equality.*

According to one of the photographers, Susan Meiselas,

I travelled to Wisconsin to look at the state of industry in a city with a rich manufacturing heritage. I found a stark contradiction. On one hand, the wealth and power that the buildings themselves represented and, on the other, the workers who kept the business moving: mostly replaceable labour on minimum wage.

*Photos above: the headquarters of Visual Impressions, a wholesale T-shirt embroidery and impressions business, where Teresa, an embroiderer, has been working for six years.

Forgotten America

Posted: 23 September 2015 in Uncategorized
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Matt Black (along with Trymaine Lee, Amy Pereira, Mina Liu, and Sam Petulla) has produced an extraordinary photodocumentary of the geography of poverty in the United States [ht: ja].

The sheer number of poor people in this country is striking: fully 45 million meet the official guidelines for poverty. And that doesn’t include millions more who are among the working poor – those who tip-toe just above the government’s official poverty line, which for a family of four means an annual income of less than $23,850 and for an individual means an annual income of $11,670. Recent reports suggest more than 50% of food stamp recipients are the working poor.

For the first time in more than 50 years, the majority of America’s public school children are living in poverty.

What does this all mean for folks trying to achieve some semblance of the American dream, let alone keep food on the table and a stable roof over their family’s heads? With the myriad roadblocks that often confront poor people, like a lack of access to a quality education or a good job, what prospects do people in this group have for overcoming these hurdles? What does success and survival even look like when you’re poor in America?

And what does it mean for a country that has done all it can to forget about the existence of widespread poverty across its length and breadth?


Over the last seven years, Milos Bicanski, an Athens-based photographer, has watched a country that called him away from his native Serbia descend deeper and deeper into a crisis created by a long series of austerity measures.

As Greece’s economic situation has become more tenuous, Bicanski says he’s witnessed a shift in his fellow countrymen. While Greeks once protested — sometimes violently — against their government’s handling of the crisis, now they seem resigned to eking out an existence.

“In the beginning, people still had some money left, still had jobs — unemployment was rising, but there was hope that the situation could be turned around,” Bicanski says. “But the gap between the rich and poor has only grown, with the number of people living under the poverty line increasing drastically. There’s no middle class anymore.”