Jacob Riis, a Danish immigrant arrived in New York in 1870 at age 21 seeking a chance at a better life. But as many before him, he too struggled with the many obstacles he encountered. Even though he didn’t arrive with much in his pockets he managed to make a significant impact in the lives of many through his documentary photography.
He had several jobs before landing one as a police reporter with the New York Tribune. His job was to report from the places he had lived when arriving to New York. While working at Tribune he felt the need to tell a story that could be seen by others, not just read, so he taught himself photography and began documenting every aspect of the city not many knew.
In 1890, after working the streets for some time, he complied his photos and made a book, "How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York". In this book he published very graphic and compelling photos that precisely accomplished what he sought to do, grab the attention of the other half. Much so it did that it even captured the attention of police commissioner and future president of the United States Theodore Roosevelt. “I have read your book, and have come to help” were the words from Theodore Roosevelt.
Photography is a powerful medium, it can change the course of history and the lives of people. This is why when doing any genre of photography it should be done with integrity and professionalism. Use photography to enrich your knowledge.
That’s all for now. As always it is an honor to have you as my readers and remember if you have any comments or questions you can do it through the comments section or send me a message through the contact tab.
Thank you and keep shooting;
Through the lens of an amateur.
Written by: Ricardo J Martinez
All images are from Museum Syndicate