5 Most Influential Photographs: Children in PovertySome of history’s most prominent and influential moments have been documented by a camera. Whether born into a low-income household or displaced by war, millions of children have lived in poverty. Over the years, thousands of photographs regarding child poverty have surfaced, engraving sympathy in millions of hearts and impacting the world. Currently, every 1 in 3 children lives in poverty. Here are 5 of the most influential photographs of children in poverty.

5 Most Influential Photographs of Children in Poverty

  1. Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange: Dorothea Lange took Migrant Mother in 1936, the photograph epitomizes the effects of the Great Depression. It depicts the disparity and destitute the United States was in. The Congressional Budget Office reported that from 1930 to 1939, the United States debt increased by 150%. In addition, around half of Americans fell into poverty. Florence Owens Thompson, the subject of the photograph, was a mother of seven children working in agriculture. Her family inhabited a leaning tent in Nipomo, California whilst living off of frozen vegetables found on surrounding fields and birds killed by her children. Moreover, around 20,000 schools closed down nationwide. As a result, this put 750,000 children on the National Youth Administration (NYA) program. Due to the separation of families, there are more than 200,000 deserted children wandered around the United States.
  2. Albino Boy, Biafra by Don McCullin: In 1969, Don McCullin, a British photographer captured an enthralling image of a young. It is a photograph of a severely malnourished orphan in present Nigeria. Additionally, the image depicts a juxtaposition through the solitary state of the boy due to his albinism and the “normality” of his peers. This picture alone shone a light onto an unknown war and spread the inhumanity of war. As a result, it incited thousands of households throughout the United States and Europe to donate to the cause. At the time, Biafra, a state composed of the ethnic minority, constantly fought with Nigeria over resources. Consequently, this affected over one million civilian casualties due to starvation and another million from war. Moreover, Biafra denied foreign aid in the beginning. Thus, it put most of its population under extreme poverty.
  3. The Terror of War by Nick Ut: After being shot in 1976, “The Terror of War” has become an icon of the Vietnam War. In the photograph, crying children flee from a war-torn battlefield while a group of soldiers surrounds them. Through the image, people felt the pain and suffering of the children, impassiveness of the soldiers and sorrow for the fallen soldiers. According to UNHCR, over 3 million people were displaced in the Vietnam War, leaving 800,000 children orphaned by the conflict. Luckily, 3,000 of the orphans were airlifted to the United States in Operation Babylift.
  4. The Vulture and the Little Girl by Kevin Carter: In the image, an emaciated child huddles on a field of debris while a vulture watches her as if waiting for her death. Ravaged by war and drought, South Sudan affirmed that the nation was in a state of famine. More than 90% of the population lives under the poverty line, affecting the children of the state. About 1 in 5 children attend school while 75% of the population lacks access to healthcare. These aspects are crucial in lifting people out of poverty. However, looking at the land and resources, South Sudan has the potential to become a wealthy country, improving the general economy of the entire nation.
  5. A Starving Boy and A Missionary by Mike Wells: In 1980, Mike Wells caught a seemingly “beautiful” moment between a catholic missionary and a starving Ugandan boy. The boy developed malnutrition because of the famine from attle raiding and droughts in Karamoja, Uganda. Half of the infants and 20% of the population of Karamoja died during the crisis. UNFPA states that 61% of the people in the region live in poverty. In addition, only 0.9% of students aged 6-12 enrolled in school. Unable to break the poverty cycle, the UN is focusing on rehabilitating this area.

Photographs of suffering often ignite passion throughout people, inflicting change amongst society. At present, there are multiple organizations and countries aiding people in need in order for the world not to take any more photographs of agony.

Zoe Chao

Photo: Flickr

inspiring actionAn inspiring action is something one thinks of when seeing a good deed done. For some photojournalists, their profession is intended to do just that. In taking thought-provoking, sometimes hard to look at, photos of a war-ravaged country or a starving child, photojournalists are inspiring action through their work for the betterment of the people in the photos.

The Inspiring Actions of Photo Journalists

Living on a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of the World’s Poor by author Thomas A. Nazario is a book that features photography by Pulitzer Prize-winner Renee Byer. The photographs capture the lives and struggles of people from 10 different countries living in poverty on less than a dollar a day. Byer worked as a photojournalist for the Sacramento Bee for many years before becoming a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer.

Inspired by the reaction of people viewing her photos for Living on a Dollar a Day before the book and exhibit were published, Byer created the Youbridge-it app. The app allows viewers of her photographs to donate to specific poverty-related causes as soon as they see the people in the photos and are inspired to help.

For Example, Intrahealth International is one of the foundations that viewers can donate to specifically through the Youbridge-it app. This organization provides treatment for women with obstetric fistula in Mali, which accounts for six percent of all maternal deaths every year and is preventable. With the Youbridge-it app, people can simply pull up the app at the exhibit or when looking through the book and donate.

Aside from helping women across the globe with her photography, Byer is “…asking people to imagine that reality as their reality.” Byer believes people are desensitized to photographs of people suffering, another reason why the app is so important and effective.

Her belief in the power of photography has served as a catalyst for change. It happens in real time, as people feel empathy while viewing the pictures; they can donate immediately on the app. Connections like these are essential to inspiring action that creates change by means of photojournalism.

The Dangers and Sacrifices of Photo Journalists

Not only are photojournalists opening doors to the ills of the world but they also often risk their lives in taking these photos. Chief photographer for Agence France-Presse in Kabul Shah Marai was killed in a suicide bombing in April of this year on the job. Marai had been documenting the war and lives devastated by corrupt government rule in Afghanistan since 1998. Over the course of 20 years, 18,000 photos taken by Marai had been published, educating the world on the horrors and realities of people living in war-ravaged Afghanistan.

In countries where media is controlled by corrupt governments, photojournalism speaks truths that inspire those globally to step in. Though Marai and other photojournalists are not necessarily directly linked to any charity organizations, their photos are inspiring action among those that are more fortunate.

Neither charity organizations nor the media would be quite as effective without the photographs of the truth to go along with them. As Byer said, putting oneself in a suffering person’s shoes inspires empathy, and that empathy is what creates change.

There are millions of suffering people in the world, and photojournalists are connecting the gap between us and them. The continued innovation of apps like Youbridge-it and the bravery of the photojournalists behind such projects will help people living in poverty around the world by inspiring action from the more fortunate.

Hope Kelly
Photo: Flickr