Jacob Rii does stereotype Italians in his writing or at least it is how he views Italians from what he has seen during that time. He starts off the chapter by saying the Italians “reproduce conditions of destitution and disorder”, which was considering captivating for an artist but not so much for the American community. I do not spot particular differences in his portrayal of immigrants in his photos compared to his depiction of them in his prose. The photos illustrate what he has written in his novel; exhibiting how Italians were at the bottom in the slums where they lived in clusters and were “content to live in a pig-sty and submits to robbery at the hands of the rent-collector” without a word. The Italians often hung around the dumps and were given the job to level out dirt when ragpicking took place. Under the authority of the city, the Italians were limited to just the dump. They ate, slept, and worked in the dumps. On Sundays, the Italians would settle down with a game of cards and gamble to their hearts content; they were a natural. Besides the living situations, Rii does mention the “redeeming traits” of the Italians. They are honest at heart and women are the perfect house wives. Their clothes bring a little brightness to their monotonous slums that they are left to create life in. The last sentence of the chapter states “and out of their misery he makes a profit” and that is really all that matters, it is what they strive to live for in the living situation they are in. They must adapt to the “lowest slope of depraved humanity” and survive.
In August of 1908, Lewis Hine had found his life passion and his reason for photography. What he means by human junk is simply what it exactly is. The way children were manipulated and forced to leave their rural homes for labor was absurd. The factory owners treated the children like dirt with zero amount of respect or appreciation for how much they did and do not stop to realize just how inhuman it was to make children work to that degree. In the video, it was described as “America’s greatest chain” which is quite ironic because there is nothing great about child labor and nor should it be great in amount. Children lost their childhood to “relentless discipline of the machines” in the most “barbaric” and disturbing way possible. Hine had to find his own clever way to get photos of the children working at their mills because the owners would not let him in even to visit. Once he began shooting photos, he was getting shots of children ranging from the tiniest you can think of to children who have grown up to know labor as their everyday environment and nothing else. To think that humans were being “degraded into a machine” is just sickening.
Hine’s photos and report meant a great deal to the government policy and the world as a whole. People needed to see the brutal truth of what was happening in their society. The photos “showed the essences of their being”, revealing the demeaning labor and destroyed beings they have become. Seeing the photos, give us a sense of what it is like as a child to labor like an adult. His determination made a striking difference when enough awareness was raised to vote for women, improve the environment, remove capitalist, and end child labor. Hine’s photographs have turned into powerful and meaningful propaganda. A bill was finally signed in 1916 to end child labor; however, this dream was short lived because 6 months after, world war I happened and the bill was declared invalid 3 months into the war. Children were now working more than ever due to the war.
dorothea lange & the migrant mother.
There was a measure of equality in the case of the Migrant Mother photograph when Dorothea Lange, a famous photographer in the 1930s decided to turn back when she caught a glimpse of the PEA-PICKERS CAMP sign at the corner of her eye as she was heading home on a rainy day after completing a month-long photogenic assignment. Her decision to turn back marked an important moment in her life, this was the very moment she discovered her passion for photography and that’s when it hit her, she had to show the world what she had photographed no matter what. Once she had been exposed to the living conditions of the camp, Lange felt the need to photograph. She was captivated by a woman and immediately took 6 shots without learning her name or knowing who she was. The equality between Lange and the woman is simple. Lange needed to capture the very sight she had seen and the woman was in need of help. Lange was captivated by the striking visual of the woman with her children at the verge of starvation.
Dorothea Lange’s conscious decision to turn back allowed for the federal authorities to be informed of the photographs and respond with a shipment of 20,000 lb. of food to the camp. Lange explains her experience as a “magnet” when she spotted the mother, who was later revealed to be Florence Thompson. I believe documentary photographs have a moral responsibility attached to them when they are shot by a photographer. It seems impossible to be invested in such a job without the ultimate intention to help. To receive permission to learn and tell a person’s story though photography is not an easy thing to agree too. Some will judge and not understand the deeper meaning behind the photo or fear that people will not care. For a person to whole-heartily allow you as a photographer to enter and explore that part of their life, it is only right to be given back a token of appreciation. To have a mindset and will to assist will not only benefit the subject, but will also be of great growth as a photographer. Some may say the moral responsibly is pressure and burden, but I see it more as motivation and determination to embody meaning and emotion in your photography. In return, this will show people your passion as a photographer and soon be rewarded greatly for your good deeds. A job is a something that must be maintained; however, choosing an occupation as a photographer is much more than that. As a photographer, you are using your skills to capture a still moment that speaks of awareness and transform a suffering moment into a moment of beautiful realization of what we need to do to improve our society as a whole. If the passion is there and the intention is clear, the fame will follow. Fame is of least importance when you are dealing with such value in what you do. Photographs are meant to be shared, interpreted, and reflected upon. Once photography allows you to produce photos of such, with the sound of the shutter going off, capturing the emotional moment through the lens of the camera, you have done your job as a photographer.