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Photography as Witness
Transcript of Photography as Witness
"A little spinner in the Mollohan Mills, Newberry, S.C. She was tending her 'sides' like a veteran, but after I took the photo, the overseer came up and said in an apologetic tone that was pathetic, 'She just happened in.' Then a moment later he repeated the information. The mills appear to be full of youngsters that 'just happened in,' or 'are helping sister.' Dec. 3, 08. Witness Sara R. Hine. Location: Newberry, South Carolina" This portrait shows Florence Thompson with several of her children in a photograph known as "Migrant Mother". The Library of Congress caption reads: "Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two. Nipomo, California." 1900s 1800s 1840-51 Henry Mayhew observed, documented and described the state of working people in London for a series of articles in a newspaper, the Morning Chronicle, that were later compiled into book form called "London Labour and the London Poor". The book was illustrated by woodcuts, from photographs A woodcut photo of Jack Black. Her Majesty's ratcatcher, 1851, taken from Volume 3, pg. 11. 1866 Thomas Annan Jacob Riis 1866 Annan was commissioned by the Glasgow City Improvement Trust to photograph slum areas 1941 Walker Evans Evans's photo of Allie Mae Burroughs, a symbol of the Great Depression Farm Security Administration 1936 Dorthea Lange 1969 Don McCullin When the Igbos of eastern Nigeria declared themselves independent in 1967, Nigeria blockaded their fledgling country, Biafra. In three years of war, more than one million people died, mainly of hunger. In famine, children who lack protein often get the disease kwashiorkor, which causes their muscles to waste away and their bellies to protrude. The world community intervened to help Biafra, and learned key lessons about dealing with massive hunger exacerbated by war--a problem that still defies simple solutions. 1968 Execution of a Viet Cong Guerrilla 1968
With North Vietnam’s Tet Offensive beginning, Nguyen Ngoc Loan, South Vietnam’s national police chief, was doing all he could to keep Viet Cong guerrillas from Saigon. As Loan executed a prisoner who was said to be a Viet Cong captain, AP photographer Eddie Adams opened the shutter. Adams won a Pulitzer Prize for a picture that, as much as any, turned public opinion against the war. Adams felt that many misinterpreted the scene, and when told in 1998 that the immigrant Loan had died of cancer at his home in Burke, Va., he said, “The guy was a hero. America should be crying. I just hate to see him go this way, without people knowing anything about him.” 1970 © 1970 Valley News-Dispatch 1963 Charles Moore Charles documented much of the civil rights movement. U.S. Senator Jacob Javits, said that Moore's pictures "helped to spur passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964." 1943 When LIFE ran this stark, haunting photograph of a beach in Papua New Guinea on September 20, 1943, the magazine felt compelled to ask in an adjacent full-page editorial, “Why print this picture, anyway, of three American boys dead upon an alien shore?” Among the reasons: “words are never enough . . . words do not exist to make us see, or know, or feel what it is like, what actually happens.” But there was more to it than that; LIFE was actually publishing in concert with government wishes. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was convinced that Americans had grown too complacent about the war, so he lifted the ban on images depicting U.S. casualties. Strock’s picture and others that followed in LIFE and elsewhere had the desired effect. The public, shocked by combat’s grim realities, was instilled with yet greater resolve to win the war. 1989 "Tank man" blocks a column of Type 59 tanks heading east on Beijing's Chang'an Boulevard (Avenue of Eternal Peace) near Tiananmen Square during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. This photo was taken from the sixth floor of the Beijing Hotel, about half a mile away, through a 400 mm lens.
This photo was taken on June 5, 1989, by Jeff Widener (The Associated Press). 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire 1911
The Triangle Shirtwaist Company always kept its doors locked to ensure that the young immigrant women stayed stooped over their machines and didn’t steal anything. When a fire broke out on Saturday, March 25, 1911, on the eighth floor of the New York City factory, the locks sealed the workers’ fate. In just 30 minutes, 146 were killed. Witnesses thought the owners were tossing their best fabric out the windows to save it, then realized workers were jumping, sometimes after sharing a kiss.The Triangle disaster spurred a national crusade for workplace safety. Curated by Edward Steichen first shown in 1955 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
According to Steichen, the exhibition represented the 'culmination of his career'. The 508 photos from 68 countries representing 273 photographers (163 Americans) were selected from almost 2 million pictures submitted by famous and unknown photographers. "The people in the photographs were of all races, ages, classes, physical types. . . . Steichen set up the show to make it possible for each viewer to identify with a great many of the people depicted and, potentially, with the subject of every photograph: citizens of World Photography all. The Family of Man photography exposition 1957 "A photograph taken by Will Counts of Elizabeth Eckford attempting to enter Little Rock School on 4th September, 1957 Sebastião Salgado Canadian firefighters in Kuwait battle to seal an oil well. 1991 Rodney King beating filmed 2000s Camera phones introduced 2002 Lauren Greenfield Photo from her book "Girl Culture". From the publisher: "[Greenfield] combines a photojournalists sense of story with fine-art composition and color to create an astonishing and intelligent exploration of American girls. Her photographs provide a window into the secret worlds of girls social lives and private rituals, the dressing room and locker room, as well as the iconic subcultures of the popular clique: cheerleaders, showgirls, strippers, debutantes, actresses, and models." 2005 Manuel Rivera-Ortiz City Dump, Yamuna River Slum, Delhi, India Tim Pool Broadcasting by using a smartphone and an external battery and his Occucoptor, Tim pool captured and live streamed the Occupy Wall Street movement. 2011 UC Davis campus security sprays Occupy sitting protesters. This event was captured by many onlookers (as seen by the many cellphones in the photo. The many versions of this lead to the hacker community Annonymous to release the cop's personal information and he was recently fired. 2012 GlobalCitizen.org incorporates the capturing of images as part of its campaign against global poverty. Internet blossoms allowing more outlets for individuals to disseminate their photographs. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook all become popular outlets for social change and citizen witness. 1996 2001 9/11 Charles Porter IV, a freelancer for his haunting photographs, taken after the Oklahoma City bombing and distributed by the Associated Press 1998 Clarence Williams of Los Angeles Times documented the plight of young children with parents addicted to alcohol and drugs. Still from video by Evan Fairbanks While there are many indelible images from the professional photographers that day, some of the most poignant were from taken by citizens. photograph by John Labriola 1973 This photo by Huynh Cong Ut of Associated Press captures the devastation caused by American napalm bombing during the Vietnam War. Susan Sontag, in On Photography, explains how photographs are more powerful than television by referencing this photo: "Television is a stream of underselected images, each of which cancels its predecessor. Each still photograph is a privileged moment, turned into a slim object that one can keep and look at again. Photographs like the one that made the front page of most newspapers in the world in 1972--a naked South Vietnamese child just sprayed by American napalm, running down a highway toward the camera, her arms open, screaming with pain--probably did more increase the public revulsion against the war than a hundred hours of televised barbarities" (18). Pulitzer Prize In 1905, sociologist Lewis Hine (1874-1940), started using photography to express his concerns, documenting the life of working people and the changing nature of work itself through industrialization in the early part of the twentieth century in the United States.
Hine, much like Jacob Riis, who a few years earlier exposed the wretched conditions of those living in poverty in the tenements of Lower East Side of New York, goal was to make visible the lives of those who would normally be invisible. For Riis, it was about confrontation. He felt if the public knew what was going on, change was unavoidable. The images captured would cast an unforgettable light on those less fortunate. Riis and Hine helped begin the transformation of photography from mere portraiture and landscapes, to a witness of degradation, war, human rights violations, hunger, and poverty. Photography became a harbinger of change.
Later, in the 1930s the Farm Security Administration hired photographers and writers to report and document the plight of poor farmers. Under Roy Stryker, the Information Division of the FSA adopted a goal of "introducing America to Americans." Many noted Depression-era photographers were fostered by the FSA project such as Walker Evans and Dorthea Lange.
In the 40s Life Magazine struggled with whether they should publish the photographs of the dead in WWII. They finally decided that “words are never enough . . . words do not exist to make us see, or know, or feel what it is like, what actually happens.” Ultimately, these photos were sanctioned by the government and helped burgeon support for the war effort in the United States. While these professional photographers made their indelible mark on the world, the rise in technology brought photography to the masses. Soon amateurs were photographing and documenting many of the atrocities they witnessed on a daily basis. A clear example of this is John Paul Filo. He was a journalism student at Kent State University in 1970 and happened to capture one of the most incendiary images of the decade and won a Pulitzer Prize for the photo.
Later, the beating of Rodney King would be captured by a citizen witness. And, with the advent of the camera phone in the early 2000s, the number of potential photographers skyrocketed. Some of the most striking images of 9/11 were taken by New Yorkers as they were living the tragedy.
Despite the influx and proliferation of citizen witnesses, the importance for professionals intensified. in the early- to mid-2000s, Lauren Greenfield, for example, was able to use her expertise and knowledge to publish several books that had an impact unachievable by amateurs. Also, many places remained unaccessable to the majority of people with cameras, and those without cameras were and are often the ones social documentary photography can help most.
The social documentary photographers of the twentieth century have ensured the old adage "out of sight out of mind" can no longer be taken for granted by providing us with the opportunity to see the world through their eyes. They leave future historians with an unprecedented legacy of material showing what the life of this century was really like. Photography as Witness 1997 "Fast Forward: Growing Up in the Shadow of Hollywood" was published. Her first monograph. 2002 She publishes a second major body of work about the self-esteem crisis amongst American women, entitled "Girl Culture. It has been reprinted five times. 2006 Greenfield’s first feature-length documentary film, THIN, aired on HBO, and is accompanied by a photography book of the same name (Chronicle Books). Greenfield graduated from Harvard in 1987 and started her career as an intern for National Geographic. 1987 The Pulitzer is a distinguished award designed to honor excellence in journalism and the arts since 1917.
The Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography has been awarded since 1968 for a distinguished example of feature photography in black and white or color, which may consist of a photograph or photographs, a sequence or an album.
There was only one photography category in 1968. Since, the Pulitzer Prize for Photography has been divided into Spot News, Feature News, and in 2000 added Breaking News photography categories. Mary Ann Vecchio gestures and screams as she kneels by the body of a student, Jeffrey Miller, lying face down on the campus of Kent State University, in Kent, Ohio. On publication, the image was retouched to remove the fencepost above Vecchio's head.
The photo was taken by John Paul Filo, who was a journalism student at Kent State University at the time and won a Pulitzer Prize for the photo. This is, therefore, an excellent example of citizen as witness.