By: s58y

Taking a picture of someone is, as David Levi Strauss writes in Between the Eyes, an act of negotiation. As such, photography, and in particular social documentary photography, is never far from the political realm. From John Thomson’s depictions of the working poor in Street Life in London (1877) to Dorethea Lange’s iconic image of the Great Depression, Migrant Mother (1936), social documentary photographers encourage us not only to look at the world but also to see how it could be better. Even today, when social documentarians lack the support of mass circulation photo magazines that were once the mainstay of their profession, photographers such as Sebastião Salgado have the power to shape our understanding of globalisation and its harsh consequences for some. Part of this tradition too is Birkbeck’s own Carlos Reyes-Manzo, whose photographs of famine in Ethiopia, Christian communities in Iraq and poverty in London is united by a common concern for human rights. Continue reading