Documenting "The Other Half": The Social Reform Photography of Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine
Photography and Social ReformJacob RiisLewis HineSlideshows

Lewis Hine

Work Portraits

Social Photographer

National Child Labor Committee

Work Portraits


Analysis of Hine Photographs

Lewis Hine left the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) in 1918 to work as a photographer for the American Red Cross. He was one of 37 photographers who documented Red Cross relief efforts in France, Italy, Serbia, and Greece. Hine focused primarily on the refugees, again, bringing a sense of humanity to his work.


Man and Machine
After returning to the United States in 1919, Hine began to focus on the more positive aspects of work life through what he called "work portraits." Whereas Hine had initially portrayed workers as victims of industrialization, he now portrayed them as heroes and heroines, working together with machinery.

Throughout the 1920s Hine took photographs for the American Clothing Workers, the Tenement House Commission, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, and the Interchurch World Movement. In April 1924 he received the Art Directors Club of New York medal for photography.

Empire State Building Workers
Empire State Building Workers

Men at Work
Hine's portrait work culminated in his appointment as the official photographer of the construction of New York's Empire State Building. From 1930 to 1931, Hine joined the builders laboring high above the city, balancing on girders to photograph their work. In 1932 he published a book titled Men at Work, which showcased the work portraits from the Empire State Building project.

 

 


Kay Davis, University of Virginia, © 2000-2003