Lewis Hine was an American photographer and sociologist. Lewis used his photography as a tool in American social reform concentrating on ending child labor. This photograph was taken around 1908, after Hine was hired by the Child Labor Committee to take pictures of child labor. The pictures that Hine took working for the committee were largely responsible for ending child labor. People knew what was happening, but never saw how bad and in such an emotion provoking way. Lewis Hine was very devoted as an anti-child labor activist so when he was taking photographs like this one, his goal was to capture an emotion-evoking image that would rally the public to his cause. He took photos with the goal of enlightening the public to the dismal facilities that child laborers worked in and dejected emotions they were feeling. The moral climate of the time held child labor as an acceptable part of society because it was in the midst of the great depression and families needed more money. Hine saw it as his job to challenge these views to try to get child labor laws passed through his emotionally provocative photos. The frame includes a cotton spinning machine and the wall just across from it, showing how cramped the working space was with the young girl at the center of interest. The blurry, seemingly never-ending lines formed by the long cotton spinning machine give the photo an eerie depth to create a mood that is gloomy and depressing in the context. I chose this photo because my family is very active in social justice and activism, and this work was instrumental in the rise of one of the most important social reforms in U.S. history. The condition of the subject’s clothes, the dimly lit lonely workroom, and the expression on the child’s face are all evidence of the latter.
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