Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fresh Inspiration

Amazing. I've always loved the photo of the Steel Workers sitting on that piece of steel in the sky having lunch while building the Empire State Building. Lewis Hine is AMAZING!

"HINE, Lewis Wickes
b. 26 September 1874; d. 3 November 1940

Lewis Hine was an American sociologist who took up photography in 1905 and used it as a documentary tool, to show the working class conditions of the poor immigrants from Europe. From 1911- 1916 he toured the US as official photographer for the National Labor Committee, where he depicted in a sensitive and heart-rending manner the plight of children working in the mills. He often hid his camera so that he could take authentic photographs, and had first to learn how to get a presentable picture without using flash.

Hine met with considerable opposition from the employers, who accused him of muck-raking. Sometimes he was banned from the premises, on other occasions the children were hidden from view when he arrived. On occasions Hine even posed as a fire inspector, Bible salesman or insurance agent in order to gain access to the premises! Where he was banned from premises, he would photograph the children arriving at or leaving the factory. Being anxious to provide evidence that could not be discredited, he even measured the children by the buttons on his jacket, having measured their height. In 1916-1917 he travelled some fifty thousand miles in his quest.

Hine discovered and exposed some appalling conditions, such as children aged six or seven having to work as many as twelve hours a day. Some of his prints have comments on the back, recording the circumstances. One reads "Sandie Fiefer, 10; South Carolina", another "Mart Payne, picks 20 lbs. cotton a day."

"I wanted to show things that had to be corrected", Hine declared. He produced several thousands of pictures. It was not until the 1930s that his work bore fruit, and child labour became controlled.

In 1910 he wrote saying: "I am sure I am right in my choice of work. My child labor photos have already set the authorities to work to see if such things can be possible, They try to get around the issue by crying forgery, but that is the value of the dates and the witnesses."

Owen Lovejoy, General Secretary of the NCLC and Hine's contracting supervisor, wrote: "The work that you did under my direction was more responsible than any or all other efforts to bring the facts or conditions of child labor employment to public attention."

The picture shows a little girl having a glimpse outside. Some of Hine's most evocative pictures are to be found at" From here> All the pics I snagged from various websites via Google images.

Wikipedia info here

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