Lewis Hine

lewis hine

Lewis Hine (1874-1940). Sweeper and doffer boys in Lancaster Cotton Mills, December 1, 1908.

Lewis Hine was a photographer that was commissioned to take a series of images across North America in the early 20th Century to highlight the problem of children being forced into work. In many cases the people pictured were unaware of Hines intentions and happily posed. As his reputation grew Hine found it increasingly difficult to gain access and was forced to sneak onto work premises to get his shot. In this image most of the subjects are happy to pose, accept one who continues to sweep the floor.

Hine has framed the image to include the large machine which I believed was used on manufacturing of cloth or garments. The repetitive pattern of the machine stretches out across the whole picture and makes you believe that this is a huge piece of equipment; Hine has also included the area behind the machine, implying the vastness of the area and the scale of the operation.  The people in this image tell a lot about the hierarchy in this work place. The older man is clearly the person in charge, he is at the forefront, stares directly into the camera and has an authoritative stance, interestingly the two kids stood at the back are wearing the same clothes. This is because these kids sit slightly higher in the pecking order, there job is to change the reels of cotton when they become empty. The composition of the image suggests they enjoy this; they are stood behind the older man, out of sight in an almost mischievous way. The boy at the front wears little more than rags, he is not permitted to stop work and you get the impression that he must ignore the camera man and he should feel lucky to just be in the scene at all. His job was the lowest in the factory and the most dangerous. He had to sweep up and get in and under the machines to retrieve the empty cardboard cotton reels. Hine also included the large box full of reels in the foreground. This highlights the amount of work this first child has to do and re-enforces his message of about the unacceptability of this practice.

This image was most likely shot on a large format camera and Hine has the depth of filed is quite shallow but Hine allowed enough to ensure that the viewer can absorb the size and scale of this factories operation. He has used a foreground, middle ground and background composition technique and a wide angle to give the image environment a feeling of depth and immensity.

Lewis Hine took over 5000 images in his campaign to highlight child labour problems in early 20th Century America.

Lewis Hine took over 5000 images in his campaign to highlight child labour problems in early 20th Century America.

Lewis Hine took over 5000 images in his campaign to highlight child labour problems in early 20th Century America

Lewis Hine took over 5000 images in his campaign to highlight child labour problems in early 20th Century America

Lewis Hine took over 5000 images in his campaign to highlight child labour problems in early 20th Century America

Lewis Hine took over 5000 images in his campaign to highlight child labour problems in early 20th Century America

Lewis Hine took over 5000 images in his campaign to highlight child labour problems in early 20th Century America

Lewis Hine took over 5000 images in his campaign to highlight child labour problems in early 20th Century America

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