Lewis W. Hine

I feel shamed to admit it, but this photograph has been forever etched into my mind, years ago, as possibly the best photo I have ever seen, of portraying ‘looking cool’.

Slight shame about acknowledging this effortlessly ‘cool’ look stems from learning this photograph is part of a social documentary set by Lewis W. Hine focusing on child labour.  Ahh, child labour, not so cool now.  This particular set is called ‘Newsies’.  I don’t know why but even the slang name for their line of work oozes coolness.  It was taken at 11am in St. Louis, Missouri between 1908-1912.

Too many details were recorded about this following lad leading this image to be disturbing.

This chap is reported as being called Richard Pierce.  At age 14 he’s been at his job for nine months so far, works from 7am to 6pm, smokes and… visits houses of prostitution.

These ‘Newsies’ sold Newspapers (believe it or not) and could get physically punished by their families for not selling enough so they would often work late into the night.

Another memorable photo from the ‘Newsies’ set is this following one, quite sweet this one, of a little group of chaps ‘playing craps in the jail alley at 10pm’, taking the opportunity for a bit of light relief.  This one particularly looks like it is from the set of a film, but it is real.

This next photo has also been forever etched into my mind as the most haunting photograph I have ever seen.  It is from the set documenting child miners.

This young lad was a mine driver in West Virginia and has been working there a year doing 7am to 5:30pm shifts every day.

Hine also photographed child factory workers, guess what they produced in this Florida factory?…

and aparantly they all smoked.  (Still managed to wear cool hats tipped at a stylish angle though… not to distract from the sad tone of the photograph with shallowness… just sayin’…)

The rest of the 5000+ photos Hine took of child labour can be viewed here http://www.lewishinephotographs.com/thumbnails

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One Response to Lewis W. Hine

  1. These photographs are so evocative – split second of someone’s life recorded for ever. Always amazed at brilliant photographers.

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