Documentary Photography (a selection)


Chapter XXI "Pauperism in the Tenements" from How The Other Half Lives, By Jacob Riis

History Matters - how Jacob Riis' photos were made

Early Documentary Photography [MMA]

The New Documentary Tradition in Photography [MMA]

Reality Check: Truth and Illusion in Contemporary Photography [MMA]

Jacob Riis [NYPL] (pdf)

Lewis Hine and Child Labor

About Lewis Wickes Hine [NYPL]

Dorothea Lange: Women Come to the Front

Walker Evans and the Picture Postcard [MMA]

The Richard Avedon Foundation




Jacob Riis in 1906

Jacob August Riis (May 3, 1849 - May 26, 1914, Denmark, came to the US at age 21), was a Danish-American "muckraker" (a word created for him by friend and then-Commissioner of Police Theodore Roosevelt), journalist, photographer, and social reformer, known for his dedication to using his photo-journalistic talents to help the poor in New York City. He is considered a pioneer in his field because he is one of the first to use flash powder.













Jacob Riis, Home of an Italian Ragpicker, 1888













Jacob Riis, Mullen's Alley, Cherry Hill, 1888













Jacob Riis, Five Cents Lodging, Bayard Street, c. 1889













Jacob Riis, Bandit's Roost, Mulberry Street, c. 1888













Jacob Riis, Men's Lodging Room in the West 47th Street Station, c. 1892













Jacob Riis, Women's Lodging Room in the West 47th Street Station, c. 1892













Jacob Riis, Basement of a Pub in Mulberry-Bend at 3:00 am, c. 1890













Jacob Riis, A Downtown Morgue (unlicensed saloon), c. 1890













Jacob Riis, Blind Beggar, c. 1890













Paul Strand, Blind, 1933













Hine photographing children, 1910.

Lewis Wickes Hine (September 26, 1874 November 3, 1940). Hine studied sociology at the University of Chicago, Columbia University and New York University. He became a teacher in New York City, at the Ethical Culture School, where he encouraged his students to use photography as an educational and transitional or revolutionary medium.NYPL's pages on Hine. [Snippet]
Lewis Wickes Hine (1874 -1940), photographer, sociologist and humanist, is best known for his insightful portraits of immigrants at Ellis Island and his unflinching views of housing and labor conditions in the United States. Studying and eventually teaching at the Ethical Culture School in New York City, Hine infused his humanist concerns into a style of documentary photography that set the standard for delivering a social message through his medium.

Hine began documenting immigrants arriving and awaiting processing at Ellis Island around 1904 and then followed these immigrants into the teeming tenements of the Lower East Side in Manhattan. He explored the immigrant experience with his probing lens and exposed the terrible housing and working conditions they were subject to in their attempts to integrate into their new homeland. Believing in the power of photography to persuade authorities to enact better housing codes for tenements and labor laws protecting children, Hine approached social welfare agencies about using his images for reform campaigns. In 1907 he was invited to participate in the Pittsburgh Survey, which was designed to investigate the living and working conditions of that heavily industrialized city. Following this he became a staff photographer for the National Child Labor Committee and traveled across much of the southern and eastern states documenting the working conditions of factories, fields, mines, mills and canneries which made use of child labor. The results of Hine's photographic pursuits eventually led to the establishment of child labor and safety laws for all workers.

Click above source for the balance of this piece by Anthony T. Troncale.













Lewis Hine, Climbing into America, Ellis Island, New York, 1905













Lewis Hine, Group of Italians at Ellis Island, New York, c. 1905













Lewis Hine, Handicapped - Crippled Steelworker Pittsburgh, c. 1908













Lewis Hine, Girl Worker in a Carolina Cotton Mill, 1908













Lewis Hine, Street Child, c. 1910













Lewis Hine, Playground in Mill Village, 1909













Lewis Hine, Poor Home, New York City Tenement, 1910













Lewis Hine, Newsie, c. 1912













Diane Arbus, Child with toy hand grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C. 1962













Lewis Hine, Powerhouse Mechanic, c. 1920













Lewis Hine, Man on Girders, Mooring Mast Empire State Building, c. 1931













Dorother Lange, 1895-1965

Dorothea Lange (May 25, 1895 October 11, 1965) was an influential American documentary photographer and photojournalist, best known for her Depression-era work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA). Lange's photographs humanized the tragic consequences of the Great Depression. She is an American icon, as her work greatly influenced documentary photography. More images and notes can be found here.













Dorothea Lange, White Angel Breadline, San Francisco, 1932













Dorothea Lange, Street Demonstration, San Francisco, c. 1933













Dorothea Lange, Ditched, Stalled, and Stranded, San Joaquin Valley, California, 1935













Dorothea Lange, Hoe Culture, Near Anniston, Alabama, 1936













Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother, Nipoma, California, 1936













John Biggers, Cradle, 1950













Dorothea Lange, Jobless on Edge of Pea Field, Imperial Valley, California, 1937













Dorothea Lange, President of the Southern Tenant Farmer's Union, Memphis, Tennessee, 1938













Richard Avedon, Portrait of Patti Smith, from the New Yorker, January 31, 2000













Richard Avedon, Ronald Fischer, Beekeeper, Davis, California, May 9 1981













Dorothea Lange, Migrant Cotton Picker, 1940













Dorothea Lange, River Bank Gas Station, c. 1940













Edward Hopper, Gas, 1940