Child Labor in United States

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For some, a picture is just a beautiful work of art, but for Lewis Hine, photography was a way to present a specific message to the world. At the point when Hine was educated with the process of how photography works, it was not yet fully establish. This being stated, photojournalism was additionally developing as a technique to convey information through images. With an end goal to better his photography abilities, Hine started to photo the people immigrating to Ellis Island, than advanced to producing image depicting child labor and the working people. He had exceptionally strong feelings towards social change and mirrored this in his work.

According to the Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society, “His most sustained and influential body of work consists of over 5,000 photographs made between 1906 and 1918 for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) publicizing the prevalence and harshness of child labor in the United States.” Hine’s dazzling photographs motivated social change in America for the people working to support their families. Lewis Hines was born on September 26, 1874 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin to Sarah Hayes Hine and Douglas Hull Hine. His mother was an educator while his father was a civil war veteran, meaning he was born into the working class. When he was 18 his father died forcing him to need to help in generating income for his family. “His first job was in a furniture upholstery factory; he worked 13 hours a day, 6 days a week and earned $4 per week” (The International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum).

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After his first job, he continued to take on many other jobs to support his family for many years. Due to his first hand experience of the exploitation of young workers, Hine was determined to escape this horrible reality of life. Once he decided he was done putting up with it, he went to college expansion courses where he met the principal of the Oshkosh State Normal School, Frank Manny. With Manny’s consolation, Hine in the end turned into an instructor at the school. Then in 1901, Manny moved on to be the director of the Ethical Culture School that was located in New York and Hine came with. Hine was instantly named as the sociology teacher and was also requested to become the photographer for the school. This is where Hine learned that his passion was photography. He soon understood the power that photography needed to uncover truth and reality, which had a consistently enduring effect on him. He imagined photography’s potential as an instructive device.Hine’s enthusiasm for social reform and change drove him in to start his first documentary in 1905 highlighting the Ellis Island immigrants. In 1908 he stopped educating to wind up working for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) as a photographer and investigator.

While working with them, he traveled around the United States attempting to get insight on child labor. Hine would figure out how to go into the sweatshops and industrial facilities where kids were utilized, and after that, in the event that he could, take photographs of what they were working on. Hine persuaded his way into manufacturing plants by posing as many different things. If he gained access, Hine rapidly take as many pictures as he could without getting caught and was open to chatting with the kids in regards to their living conditions, the conditions under which they worked in, and their age. In the midst of hordes of on edge workers, Hine needed to find his subjects of his next photos and set the shot while having to deal with the possible language barriers present with the workers. He needed to set up his 5 x 7 view camera on its feeble tripod, center the camera, pull the slide, and do many other things before the image could be taken.

Once an exposure was taken, a second exposure was practically impossible; one shot was all he had so he had to make it just right. In the event that Hine was not granted permission to a factory, he would hold up outside the entryways and take pictures of the kids as they left and came to work. “Hine’s photographs and narratives told of the children’s physical and emotional abuse, their exposure to physical hazards and the dangers of the red-light district, including smoking, alcohol, and prostitution. He gave voice to the children forced into labor before many of them could even tie their shoelaces, recite the alphabet, or spell their own name. His work stirred the public conscience and undeniably contributed to the eventual passage of child labor laws…Hine once said, “There are two things I wanted to do. I wanted to show the things that had to be corrected. I wanted to show the things that had to be appreciated.” That he captured the harsh conditions in which his subjects lived and worked was notable, but that he showed their beauty and resilience was remarkable, and his body of work turned the forgotten into the unforgettable” (Lockett). He thought that if individuals could see with their own eyes the misuse of young work, they would request laws to end those disasters.

In a considerable amount of photos that he took while working for the National Child Labor Committee, he used a sensational method of portrayal within them. The presence of Melodrama was not just there so he could highlight child labor and to tell a story through his workings but to also emotionally move whoever viewed his photos For him, the best photographs were the ones that stimulated sensitivity and sympathy towards his subject. Lewis Hine was not impacted by a solitary individual, but rather all Americans. He felt the need to achieve social change. Hine trusted that if individuals could see with their own eyes the misuse of kids at work, they would request laws to end those indecencies. He impacted America to assume responsibility and come up with improvements. He likewise impacted the enthusiasm for America to comprehend what was happening behind shut doors. Lewis Hine prompt the improvement of documentary style photography. Hine demonstrated to other artists that they could utilize their subjects and pictures to make a difference in the society.

Hine, from the earliest starting point, considered his photography as an instructive device as well as a work of art. For him, the craft of photography is to translate the regular world, that of poverty, work, family and much more. He didn’t choose to signify humble subjects; he didn’t signify magnificence or individual articulation. He chose to to imply the realities of how individuals lived. He wanted his photographs as raw as he could get them. As indicated by Hine, the craftsmanship and excellence of photography lay with the general population and recording reality of them. Pushing the limits of the prospect of the time, he positioned his subjects so they would be directly looking into the camera. One who saw the picture would have to look most of Hines subjects straight in the eye. This sort of encounter was brave, yet powerful. Hine set new benchmarks of thought, and numerous others started to see the energy of these pictures and started to take after his impact. Hine picked up acknowledgment and was soon appointed for other work. However, Hine did not gain full popularity until he was already dead. Many things have been said about his work including, “Hine never tried hard for a single effect; he was usually not pictorially dramatic and many of his photographs appeared flat – not shocking enough for his contemporaries. The people in the photographs communicate directly to us as if they were still alive. They spill out of their historic reality to become part of our present. We see them and think we are about to know them.” (Gutman). Apparently, “Hine once said, ‘There were two things I wanted to do. I wanted to show the things that had to be corrected; I wanted to show the things that had to be appreciated’. His records of child laborers were stark proof of what needed to be corrected and his following project sought to bring out the dignity in work. He spent all of 1930 documenting the construction of the Empire State Building, taking hundreds of photos of the workers and work conditions. In 1932 he compiled his records into an exhibition and a book titled Men at Work” (Aperture).

In my opinion his exceptionally strong feelings towards social change was mirrored this in his work. He used photography to present a specific message to the world. I love his photographs and the messages behind them. They are extremely powerful and motivating. I love how Hine was not impacted by a solitary individual, but rather all Americans. I applaud him not only for his photographs but for the risks he took to expose the corrupt companies using child labor. His photos represent a moment in time which I think is very special. Although it is bad it is part of american history so it needs to be accepted. It highlight s a time period in which our country was not in a good place. His work shows passion, dedication and hard work, so I was glad I had the opportunity to reach him for this project. His photographs have depth and purpose with is why I think I enjoyed them so much.

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Child Labor in United States. (2021, Oct 27). Retrieved from

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