Almost every person has a photo camera today, and millions of people can make good photographies, but only naturally talented people can create masterpieces of photographic art. I have heard many years ago that one picture is worth than a thousand words. In my opinion photography is a very powerful tool that can show us not only picture but also tell its prominent story. I’d like to tell you about famous photographer Lewis Hine and his photographic art. I want to discuss in this paper interesting images that this photographer is most famous for creating.
Lewis W. Hine had an interesting biography, because he begin his professional way from scratch and achieve success due to great and conscious efforts in chosen area. He was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 1874 and began working early after his father death. Lewis saved money for his college education and as a result he studied sociology at the Columbia University, University of Chicago and New York University.
At first he became a teacher in New York City at the Ethical Culture School but he was not an ordinary teacher due to his natural creativity, that’s why he used photography as an educational medium for his students and cultivates love to the images and creative world perception to his students. We can mark that it were his first steps to the lifework and he even took his classes to take photographies of immigrants who arrived each day to Ellis Island in New York Harbor. Now we should describe Hine’s biography but not from the point of his life as a person by from the position of creative personality appearance. Woodward stated that “Lewis Wickes Hine (September 26, 1874 – November 3, 1940) was an American sociologist and photographer. Hine used his camera as a tool for social reform. His photographs were instrumental in changing the child labor laws in the United States.” (Woodward, 2000) In the 1905 Hine made photographies that told about the fate of immigrants and their attempts to conquer another country, for example America. His works bared poverty, confusion, unrealizable hope on the best future – if not own future, but little bit better for their children. New magazines printed the pictures of Hine.
Inspired with this success, Hine leaved his school and dedicated all time to the photography art that became his profession in future. Hine understood photography in his own way and he reflected all things around him through the prism of reality without any decorations. We can add that “actually, he understood photography as a teaching method, a way of studying and spreading one of the areas in which he always took an interest: work. Hine became famous for his extensive coverage of child labor” (Mofford & Hine, 1997) It is necessary to mention that many images of Hine’s creative photos has their own history and we even call them unique components of Hine’s point of view reflection. Every image was taken in different way because such photographies taking were prohibited in that times and Lewis made his photographies in hidden way. Photographer took pictures of young workers: miners, weavers, longshoremen, stokers, and described them as children without childhood who need to work and earn money for their life. Returning to biographical facts we can say that “during the 1920s, he made a series of work portraits that ironically documented the importance of human labor for modern industry. It was this curriculum that led him to be offered his most famous photographic documentary: an account of the construction of the Empire State Building, in New York.”(Mofford & Hine, 1997) Black and white photographies open to spectator realistic world with real people and real problems, and due to his sociological education Lewis Hine felt all these people and had a great wish to help them through his photographic art.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned it is possible to conclude that Lewis Hine was not only a prominent photographer but also a fighter against children labor and social unfairness. Indeed, the profession of photographer, constantly incoming in a creative contact with mass of different people, extraordinarily interesting, difficult and responsible. Moreover, photographic art give us an opportunity to look back into the past and incredible portrait galleries of Lewis Hine allow us to remember people who are suffering in different situations. In my opinion, Hine’s techniques of photography are work and creativity at the same time. I want to say that first Hine’s photos, which he called “gallery of the lost generations” greatly impressed me and one photo from this collection even became a symbol of great fight against child’s labor. Hine understood that internal world of a man is always made by basic maintenance of artistic portrait and used these techniques as part of psychological portraits making. We can call Hine’s photos masterpieces of photographic art because these photos are not only pictures but they are also an instrument in the struggle for people rights and his photos one day shocked the world. In addition to this it is necessary to emphasize that Hine’s photos are not “passive”, but vice verse they are “active” pictures of life and even today looking at these pictures you see a piece of history of our country.
Woodward, Richard. Too Much of a Good Thing: Photography, Forgery, and the Lewis Hine Scandal. The Theoretical Physicist Who Ignited the Biggest Firestorm in the History of the American Photography Market. The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 291, June 2000.
Explore the History of Child Labor in America through Photos. Curriculum Review, Vol. 43, January 2004.
Mofford, Juliet & Hine, Lewis. Child labor in America. Ingram Pub Services, 1997.