Other Half Lives Essay

Other Half Lives Essay-85
Meanwhile, Riis began presenting his photographs at churches and schools, often provoking shocked reactions from his audiences.In 1889, Riis published an article in called “How the Other Half Lives,” a phrase taken from François Rabelais’s famous quote: “One half of the world does not know how the other half lives.” After seeing the success of the article, Riis decided to adapt it into a book. Echoing the style of Charles Dickens, Riis used both sentimental and critical prose to describe the plight of the urban poor.Migration and the standardization of establishments are the attributing factors to overpopulation distribution and overcrowding of living arrangements in the city.

Meanwhile, Riis began presenting his photographs at churches and schools, often provoking shocked reactions from his audiences.In 1889, Riis published an article in called “How the Other Half Lives,” a phrase taken from François Rabelais’s famous quote: “One half of the world does not know how the other half lives.” After seeing the success of the article, Riis decided to adapt it into a book. Echoing the style of Charles Dickens, Riis used both sentimental and critical prose to describe the plight of the urban poor.Migration and the standardization of establishments are the attributing factors to overpopulation distribution and overcrowding of living arrangements in the city.

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Unable to find a steady source of income, Riis took on various low-paying jobs such as bricklaying, carpentry, and sales.

During this time, he experienced firsthand the utter poverty in America’s cities.

After publishing numerous articles describing his findings, Riis realized that sensationalist prose had a limited effect on his otherwise oblivious audience; indeed, some of Riis’s readers felt that he must be exaggerating the conditions in the tenements.

It was then that Riis started to experiment with photography, hypothesizing that the misery of the poor might be better conveyed through images.

Astounded by the high levels of crime and disease—which he attributed largely to low socioeconomic status—Riis felt that the unsanitary and dangerous living conditions of the poor were a terrible injustice.

After several years, Riis managed to establish a steady income and found work as a journalist for the .

After getting a job with the, Riis began to photograph life in the slums using innovative flash technology to better capture the dim tenements and the nighttime streets.

Rather than having his subjects pose, Riis often ran up to them and quickly took a photo before running away.

Accompanying Riis’s words were detailed line drawings and halftones of his most compelling photographs (one of the first extensive uses of halftone photography in a book).

was an immediate success, and Riis was applauded for his bold assertion that addressing urban poverty was both a social and moral imperative.

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