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Author Topic: Lewis Hine's Photographs  (Read 1962 times)

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rubyroo

« on: April 13, 2012, 01:37 »
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A short video (just a few minutes) showing the very moving photography of Lewis Hine:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17673213


« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2012, 01:56 »
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Wow. Those days before photoshop, LCD screens on cameras, zoom lenses, digital capture, were amazing. We have it so easy.

« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2012, 08:55 »
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What a great photographer. I noticed no smiling faces. Times were hard. It puts things in perspective. Thanks for sharing the link.

rubyroo

« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2012, 13:17 »
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My pleasure.  Glad you enjoyed the vid.   :)

« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2012, 14:25 »
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The role photography played in encouraging social legislation in the US up to the 1940s is extraordinary. I can't think of any equivalent influence in Europe. I don't know why.

« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2012, 14:32 »
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very nice indeed, thanks for sharing :D

rubyroo

« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2012, 15:53 »
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I had to look that up, Mr Trousers.  This might be of interest:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_documentary_photography

« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2012, 16:05 »
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I had to look that up, Mr Trousers.  This might be of interest:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_documentary_photography


Thanks for that. It's interesting that the UK pioneered social photography but I still don't know of it having a major impact on public opinion and the legislature, the way it apparently did in the US.

rubyroo

« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2012, 16:12 »
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I have a close relative who lectures in the art field.  He has a special interest in social injustice and photography, so this might be something he can help with.  I'll ask him and let you know if he has anything helpful on the subject.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2012, 16:32 by rubyroo »

« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2012, 01:51 »
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Thanks. It just struck me as a curious divergence and left me wondering why. It could be something as simple as the countries being at different stages of industrial development by the 20th century, or that the size of the country meant that it was possible for politicians to go to see things for themselves.

« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2012, 04:15 »
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thanks for the link.

rubyroo

« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2012, 04:47 »
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or that the size of the country meant that it was possible for politicians to go to see things for themselves.

^That's the only thing that occurred to me when I pondered your question... it does seem feasible.  He's replied with some information btw, but says he wants to do a little more thinking and digging.  So I'm just waiting to see if he has anything else to add and whether he minds if I quote him verbatim.

ETA: You're welcome Tyler.  Thanks for the forum to post it in  ;)

ShadySue

« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2012, 05:48 »
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Thanks. It just struck me as a curious divergence and left me wondering why. It could be something as simple as the countries being at different stages of industrial development by the 20th century, or that the size of the country meant that it was possible for politicians to go to see things for themselves.


Maybe the UK had a proportionately higher number of social activists? And in general a large influence of Socialism/British Labour Party. Intelligent and well-educated people from families who couldn't let them stay on at school beyond 13 (my Dad was one), but who could argue a rigourous case for worker's rights.
Again, with universal free education in Scotland (and presumably also England, though I believe we were first), small child labour (under 13) wasn't so much of an issue over here, certainly by the early 20th century. The Victorian philanthropists like Wilberforce had done a lot about children down pits etc. and Rev Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies (1863) was very influential. Wilberforce was even a founder of the RSPCA, so these things were going on in the 19th century, also e.g. William Booth campaigning for safety matches ('Lights in Darkest England') against phossy jaw.

When I was at school, the 20th century wasn't considered 'History' and 'Modern Studies' wasn't around; so I never heard about events such as Bloody Friday in Glasgow. In fact, I only found out about it last year:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_George_Square
and there must be lots more I don't know about.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2012, 09:57 by ShadySue »

ShadySue

« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2012, 05:51 »
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Also with the UK being so small compared with the US, maybe people tended to know more what was going on? - e.g. national newspapers cover the whole country, and near universal literacy over a century ago, in all strata of society, which I believe wasn't the case in the US.
I remember reading that it was only when television reported various things that were going on in the South of the US that most people in the northern states found out what was going on in the segregated South, even in the early 60s.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2012, 09:54 by ShadySue »

ShadySue

« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2012, 05:51 »
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A short video (just a few minutes) showing the very moving photography of Lewis Hine:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17673213


Thanks for the link. Photography that really matters.

rubyroo

« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2012, 09:00 »
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Glad you liked it too, Sue.  Yes, the comparative land mass/newspaper circulation would seem to be significant in this.

Mr Trousers... he says he will dig around some more when he can, but for now he said I could copy/paste his 'off the top of his head' response from last night.  You sound like someone who probably already considered all these points, but I pass them along anyway, in case there's something here that is helpful.  I'm not so familiar with American history - but looking at this, I wonder if the 'New Deal' had something to do with it... i.e. the top-down permeation of an ideal reaching so deep that it resulted in what appeared to be a bottom-up effect.  I don't know... just a thought.  Here's what he said, anyway:
 

Begin Quote:
_________________________________
"It's an interesting point.

"The farm security administration photographs wherein artists were sponsored under Roosevelt was just one of an enormous list of New Deal agencies set up to produce employment and report on conditions to help America out of the depression.

"All of this reflects the strength of the Left and of the American Communist party and Unions in America in the pre-war, pre-cold war, pre-McCarthy era. When America's original dream and promise to rescue and raise up lost and disowned European migrants still blossomed enthusiastically, even at a federal state level.

"Inter-war European countries never had a similar or equal state enthusiasm to build out of recession by lavishing public money on state  projects, including the employment by artists on state sponsored projects - like the FSA.

"In Britain the 'Mass Observation' movement and a strong documentary film tradition  -traced by Tate Liverpool's exhibition 'Making History' were both ways in which poverty was brought to the attention of a wider public.

"George Orwell's 'Down & Out in Paris and London' and 'The Road To Wigan Pier' are brilliant and detailed descriptions of poverty in England in the 1930s and show the Left-wing motivation of many artists to represent the inevitable inequalities of the capitalist system. Photographers, like Bill Brandt and Tony Ray-Jones were just two who used photo-journalistic realism to either bring poverty and images of poor children or illustrate class-divides for Sunday supplement audiences.

"August Sander was a strong document-er of the German middle Class but it is hard to imagine that there are not at least near-equivalents to Hine in British, French and German inter-war photography (even if their names do not spring to mind.) Of course, if there are, none would have the full backing of the government as some did in U.S. under Roosevelt's innovative, Keynsian New Deal strategy to build and spend a way out of depression and recession.

"Nevertheless, I think Brassai, Cartier-Bresson, Kertesz etc. would all have reflected poverty in their photographs on occasions and sometimes as a targeted project. There may also be a strong Spanish collection of images of poverty attendant upon the 30s civil war there, though there were almost certainly fewer professional photographers amid that culture than in France, Britain, Germany and the U.S. (I suspect there is a rich selection to be found in Italy too.)

"The destruction of the American left (including a Left literary tradition including communists who documented the lives of the poor like John Steinbeck) has meant the destruction, in many ways of what America REALLY stood for, a land of hope for the hopeless, displaced and rejected.

"This is a great question which we are just scratching the surface of here (with a tired head, ready for bed) and it just requires some deeper digging to find interesting European equivalents I think. It's interesting that in post-war, 50s and 60s Britain (and America too) a lot of working class heroes are brought to the TV or movie screen (in e.g. 'Friday Night & Saturday Morning', 'Room At The Top', 'Cathy Come Home',) as a way to encourage the leveling of class and cultural differences (in America it might happen though films with Brando or James Dean.)"
_______________________
End quote.

ShadySue

« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2012, 09:24 »
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Double post. Sorry again.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2012, 09:49 by ShadySue »

rubyroo

« Reply #17 on: April 15, 2012, 10:08 »
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No worries Sue, I'm glad you did re-post it.   I somehow missed it the first time.  You make great points there.. I'm always hesitant to make comparisons with the US because my knowledge of US history is limited, but of course you're right about the earlier social reform movements over here (also Engels!), and that Glasgow riot certainly hits home with a sense of how strongly workers sensed their rights in 1919.  I'd never heard of it either, and it certainly seems like something we should all have heard of.

Is it the case then that Europe (simply by virtue of it's countries being older with longer-established infrastructures) had already evolved enough to accept the strong cases presented for workers' rights, and the US (being  younger) was still catching up to that in the 1930s?   I've often wondered similarly about the seemingly tardy ending of racial segregation in the US.  Possible parallels with Maslow's Hierarchy in some way.

So perhaps... whether top-down from Roosevelt, or bottom(-ish)-up from Hine and his ilk, there may have been a greater need to force change... and it occurs to me too that with such a diverse population of non-English speakers, perhaps strong visuals were considered a far more effective means of permeating through all levels of society and creating a stir than the written word.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2012, 10:10 by rubyroo »

ShadySue

« Reply #18 on: April 15, 2012, 10:28 »
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So perhaps... whether top-down from Roosevelt, or bottom(-ish)-up from Hine and his ilk, there may have been a greater need to force change... and it occurs to me too that with such a diverse population of non-English speakers, perhaps strong visuals were considered a far more effective means of permeating through all levels of society and creating a stir than the written word.

Oh yes, you're surely right: I hadn't thought of the diverse languages giving a need for visual rather than written information. Exactly how Art was accelerated in Europe firstly via religious art because many of the Medieval 'ordinary people' couldn't understand Latin.

« Reply #19 on: April 15, 2012, 12:08 »
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Ruby, thanks for the thoughts from your relative. I had thought about the literary input of Orwell (he's vaguely related to me) and wondered whether that - and Dickens before him, of course, who was also socially important - had mean that a film record was less necessary because the work was being done through words.

It also seems that the UK, at least, was more sensitive to social issues than we might suppose and had been legislating over child labour right back into pre-Victorian times: "Although the debate over whether children were exploited during the British Industrial Revolution continues today [see Nardinelli (1988) and Tuttle (1998)], Parliament passed several child labor laws after hearing the evidence collected. The three laws which most impacted the employment of children in the textile industry were the Cotton Factories Regulation Act of 1819 (which set the minimum working age at 9 and maximum working hours at 12), the Regulation of Child Labor Law of 1833 (which established paid inspectors to enforce the laws) and the Ten Hours Bill of 1847 (which limited working hours to 10 for children and women)." - http://eh.net/encyclopedia/article/tuttle.labor.child.britain

So perhaps the sort of abuses Hine was concerned with were no longer happening in Europe by the time photography became commonly available. In a young country expanding rapidly geographically and economically, new social challenges could - I presume - spring up in peripheral areas and pass unnoticed for a time.

Of course, the Farm Administration photography came later in response to the Great Depression and was really a different genre from Hine, who was campaigning against deliberate abuse. The record of the impact of the depression was not about abuse but about helplessness in adversity.

Neither Cartier-Bresson nor Brassai were driven by a desire to ameliorate poverty, as far as I know. They were more just chroniclers of the world around them (and there's nothing wrong with that).

rubyroo

« Reply #20 on: April 15, 2012, 14:16 »
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So perhaps the sort of abuses Hine was concerned with were no longer happening in Europe by the time photography became commonly available. In a young country expanding rapidly geographically and economically, new social challenges could - I presume - spring up in peripheral areas and pass unnoticed for a time.

What a beautifully concise summary.  :)

Different genre, yes... a bit of a broader brush there than you were hoping for.   Dickens <slaps head>  I'm reading blimmin' Dickens at the moment (my first Kindle experiment) and never thought to mention him.  Thanks for that link also.  Very interesting that only the 'sweeps' seemed to raise concern prior to industrialisation, and also that concerns were raised so early in the factory scenarios.  The two opposing schools of thought are interesting to read, too.  It's the first I've ever seen of the 'optimists' arguments.

An Orwellian descendent!  Congrats on that :)  Did that inspire your writing career, I wonder?

ShadySue

« Reply #21 on: April 15, 2012, 14:47 »
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@Rubyroo ~
Another for our set?
The Unthanks perform The Testimony of Patience Kershaw


Testimony of Patience Kershaw
(Frank Higgins)

It's good of you to ask me, Sir, to tell you how I spend my days
Down in a coal black tunnel, Sir, I hurry corves to earn my pay.
The corves are full of coal, kind Sir, I push them with my hands and head.
It isn't lady-like, but Sir, you've got to earn your daily bread.

I push them with my hands and head, and so my hair gets worn away.
You see this baldy patch I've got, it shames me like I just can't say.
A lady's hands are lily white, but mine are full of cuts and segs.
And since I'm pushing all the time, I've got great big muscles on my legs.

I try to be respectable, but sir, the shame, God save my soul.
I work with naked, sweating men who curse and swear and hew the coal.
The sights, the sounds, the smells, kind Sir, not even God could know my pain.
I say my prayers, but what's the use? Tomorrow will be just the same.

Now, sometimes, Sir, I don't feel well, my stomach's sick, my head it aches.
I've got to hurry best I can. My knees are weak, my back near b
And then I'm slow, and then I'm scared these naked men will batter me.
But they're not to blame, for if I'm slow, their families will starve, you see.

Now all the lads, they laugh at me, and Sir, the mirror tells me why.
Pale and dirty can't look nice. It doesn't matter how hard I try.
Great big muscles on my legs, a baldy patch upon my head.
A lady, Sir? Oh, no, not me! I should've been a boy instead.

I praise your good intentions, Sir, I love your kind and gentle heart
But now it's 1842, and you and I, we're miles apart.
A hundred years and more will pass before we're standing side by side
But please accept my grateful thanks. God bless you Sir, at least you tried.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"No. 26. Patience Kershaw, aged 17, May 15.
"This girl is an ignorant, filthy, ragged, and deplorable-looking object, and such an one as the uncivilized natives of the prairies would be shocked to look upon."

My father has been dead about a year; my mother is living and has ten children, five lads and five lasses; the oldest is about thirty, the youngest is four; three lasses go to mill; all the lads are colliers, two getters and three hurriers; one lives at home and does nothing; mother does nought but look after home.

All my sisters have been hurriers, but three went to the mill. Alice went because her legs swelled from hurrying in cold water when she was hot. I never went to day-school; I go to Sunday-school, but I cannot read or write; I go to pit at five o'clock in the morning and come out at five in the evening; I get my breakfast of porridge and milk first; I take my dinner with me, a cake, and eat it as I go; I do not stop or rest any time for the purpose; I get nothing else until I get home, and then have potatoes and meat, not every day meat. I hurry in the clothes I have now got on, trousers and ragged jacket; the bald place upon my head is made by thrusting the corves; my legs have never swelled, but sisters' did when they went to mill; I hurry the corves a mile and more under ground and back; they weigh 300 cwt.; I hurry 11 a-day; I wear a belt and chain at the workings, to get the corves out; the getters that I work for are naked except their caps; they pull off all their clothes; I see them at work when I go up; sometimes they beat me, if I am not quick enough, with their hands; they strike me upon my back; the boys take liberties with me sometimes they pull me about; I am the only girl in the pit; there are about 20 boys and 15 men; all the men are naked; I would rather work in mill than in coal-pit.

More: http://www.victorianweb.org/history/ashley.html

« Reply #22 on: April 15, 2012, 15:59 »
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An Orwellian descendent!  Congrats on that :)  Did that inspire your writing career, I wonder?

No, no, I didn't say descendant, I'm just vaguely related as my uncle married his neice. My writing came about by accident (or, more specifically, because I got bored with chemistry and needed to do something or other to get paid).

rubyroo

« Reply #23 on: April 18, 2012, 10:55 »
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God Sue, it tears at your heart doesn't it?  Really brings it home to you.  Thanks for posting that, I know a few people who'll appreciate it and will pass it along.

@BT - sorry for putting words in your mouth  :D  Any connection is a good one!  'The Accidental Writer'... sounds like a potential book title...

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