Three hundred and twenty-two

Documenting poverty

"Stan", from the $2 portrait project (offering $2 to anyone who asks for money in exchange for taking their photo). By Thomas Hawk on Flickr. Click on the image to see more of Stan's story.

Child begging on the streets. From bencor at bencor.deviantart.com.

From anacoluthon at anacoluthon.deviantart.com.

For my first day of $4 a day, I’d like to delve into a related topic about how photography (and similarly writing) about poverty can touch a sore spot.  Should artists, writers, and photographers document poverty?

There is much debate over whether photography and video of poverty, especially those art pieces sold for money, is good or bad. While it is good to show the world the many faces of poverty and what it is like in those parts of the world that face extreme poverty, is it ok that some of those photographers and artists profit off of it?  A lot of the photos are beautiful, but should we be using other people’s tragedies for our own pleasure?  (As a side note: all the photographs I found from above were on free, photo sharing sites)

Although I understand the questions, I think the more images of the extreme poverty that many places in the world face, the better.  The good and the bad times.  It is important to talk about these things, and seeing them makes them all the more real.  It’s easy to deny a word, but an image is a harder thing to argue about.  There will always be those people who profit off of others’ misfortunes, but (and this could be a very naive thing to say), I think a lot of the photographers who devote their work to documenting poverty are doing it not for the money (although they do need to make some money to survive), but for the message they are getting out to the world.

Here are a few websites with some very strong images of poverty: