Jun 25, 2018 in Sociology

Immigration Years

Photography is one of the areas of discovery which have significantly undergone tremendous changes for a very long period of time. From analogue to digital photography a lot of information has been passed to generations and stored for future use. This transformation has led to the improvement on the quality of photographs through animation and other digital making photography to be among desirable fields. It is however important to note that at no any given moment has a discussion on photography ended without the mention of Jacob Riis, a famous Danish photographer who Jacob Riis used the camera as an instrument for social awareness in late 19th century in New York City. Born in 1849, Riis was a journalist, social reformer and a social documentary photographer. He used his talent in photography to help the less fortunate in the society with special emphasis on dwelling places and settlement. He has been labeled the pioneer of photography with other humanitarians.

Like many other immigrants in the early American history, Riis led a poor life with massive difficulties of securing a job. He first served as an editor for a few weeks before quitting. He later got another job after covering news at Astor House. After having gone through several years of pain and poverty, Riis perfected writing about the experiences of the poor as he nurtured his talent. Riis was faced with technological hitches since photography in 1880s was of poor quality (Riis 104). However, the introduction of flashlight gave him the hope of expressing his words in a more visible manner. This factor greatly helped Riis together with his photography friends to bring various issues in New York City to light to light. Riis’ initial step was the photographing of slums. He worked with likeminded people and dropped those he felt were pulling back his efforts. With his main focus on the survival techniques of the poor, Riis had several collections of photos covering crime and poverty especially along Mulberry Street.

The powerful nature of Riis photographs was mainly centered towards moving people and letting them understand and have a feeling of life under the imprisonment of poverty. This was also to curb the difference between the lower class and those who felt like enjoying life in the middle class. Existence of social problems was clearly covered by Riis as he practiced his talent. Poverty and poor housing was brought about by lack of good paying jobs and negligence of the poor by the rich (Riis 131). It is important to note that Riis emergent to be a super photographer at the heat of every form of social injustices in the U.S. with comparison to the urban infrastructure, the existence of good jobs and other affordable social amenities would have clearly helped in preventing crime and in eradication of poverty. Nevertheless, Riis played a major role in bringing major social problems in New York to light.

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