SCANDR5B PAPER 2.docx - Kafil 1 Usama Kafil Essay 2 How the Other Half Lives Scandinavian R5B Ian Thompson Jacob Riis\u2019 How the Other Half Lives

SCANDR5B PAPER 2.docx - Kafil 1 Usama Kafil Essay 2 How the...

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Usama Kafil Essay 2: How the Other Half Lives Scandinavian R5B Ian Thompson 3/30/2016 Jacob Riis’ How the Other Half Lives focuses on the lives of the “other half”, yet still somehow does not minimize them to a dehumanized role of something simply observed. Jacob Riis did not keep a distance from his subjects, which prevented them from simply becoming a form of entertainment or some sort of exhibition. Through this journalism and photography, Riis exemplifies the humanity of his subjects and strengthens the message of reform he is conveying. his minimized distance can be seen through Riis’ encounters with his subjects, explanations on historical events, his role as a photographer. In his work, Riis documented his personal experiences with them which did the opposite of dehumanizing them. It brought his subjects to life. Instead of simply being subjects, they were real human beings in these terrible situations. By combining text and images, Riis maximized the emotional appeal towards his subjects and their struggles. In many instances in his book, Riis did not only include photographs, but he also chose to tell the stories behind them. For example, instead of simply including the picture entitled “The Tramp” 1 , Riis commented on the circumstances surrounding the picture. 2 “I Bade him sit for a picture, offering ten cents for the job. He accepted the offer with hardly a nod… Then he took the pipe out of his mouth and put it in his pocket, calmly declaring that it was not included in the contract, and that it was worth a quarter to have it go in the picture… He knew his rights and the value of ‘work’ and was not to be cheated out of either” 3 By mentioning how the Tramp agreed to pose for a picture for pay, but 1 2 Riis, Jacob A. How the Other Half Lives (Middletown: Seven Treasures Publications, 2009), p.42 3 Ibid.,43 Kafil 1
insisted he be paid extra for including the pipe Riis brought upon an interesting backstory. This experience was both somewhat comedic and emotionally appealing. By humorously mentioning that the man asked for more money, Riis made it clear to the audience how bad his struggle really was. and to what extent these people would go for money. More importantly, he made it clear that this tramp was a human being fighting for survival. This is just one of many instances in Riis’ book where he documented his personal experiences with his subjects. By doing so, Riis provided his readers with a window into the life of the “other half” that allowed them to experience what he did, without having to have been there themselves. As Christopher Carter so eloquently stated “The intensification of the visual moment gave viewers a sense of risk-free access, whereby they could temporarily share a space with the poor (while being spared the vulgar sounds and odious scents), and in this sense shared space lay a powerful appeal of ethos.” 4 Riis’ words and photography served as a platform for his audience journey out to these

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