Pictures of the poor are always with us


What’s the opposite of an embarrassment of riches? Well, that’s what I’ve got.

Today, I’m filling in for the absent Mike Fitts, and one of the things he normally does is pick columns and art for the op-ed page — in addition to composing, outputting and releasing that page to the platemakers downstairs.

Anyway, I’ve chosen a syndicated column for tomorrow — it’s a Robert J. Samuelson column, for Wednesday release, on the persistent economic forces that keep, and will quite likely continue to keep, the poorest part of the world lagging behind the affluent parts.

Needing art (journalese for photos, cartoons, graphics — pretty much anything beyond text) for the page, I wondered whether I might find something on the wire that would go with the Samuelson piece.

Boy, could I.

This is partly because photojournalists the world over are drawn to images of poverty — under such circumstances, a picture is worth far more than its usual allotment of 1,000 words. But it’s also because, once you get outside this country and Western Europe, there’s so much of it out there.

Here are just five of the many I had to choose from today. So you be the editor: Which do you think best complements the Samuelson piece, based on my sketchy description above?



5 thoughts on “Pictures of the poor are always with us

  1. Doug Ross

    I’d go with #2 or the last one…
    Or you could just take a stroll down Main Street and grab some photos yourself.
    This past Saturday, I distributed coats, blankets, clothes, shoes, and socks I had collected to a group of about 100+ homeless people who come to First Baptist Church for a meal on the 4th Saturday of each month. The demand for these items always exceeds supply (30 coats went in about 10 minutes).
    Every one of these people has a story, usually involving either drugs, alcohol, or some life-altering event.

  2. bill

    I think the third pic is best.The others fit the standard stereotype that make the poor look less than human.They overload the senses to the point that they evoke little emotion.
    Read his sign.He may be broke,but he still has a sense of humor(and an eye for the ladies).
    Irreverent? Probably.
    Maybe you shouldn’t take my advice.

  3. Brad Warthen

    I was going to go with the last one… but when I converted it to black-and-white (no color on that page), I couldn’t get the brightness and contrast to a point that I thought it would reproduce well in the paper — even after dodging the shadows around the old man in Photoshop.
    I ended up going with the top one. It’s the quickest “read,” and it retained high-quality resolution and contrast when I dropped out the color.
    Strictly speaking, the fourth one (the one bill likes) above SORT of illustrated the column best, in the sense that it suggested the contrast between affluence (the dame with the gams) and poverty — BUT, that contrast was within a single culture, whereas Samuelson is dealing with the contrast between differing cultures and the impact that has on affluence….
    Also, all that stuff I just said is a bit much for the reader to infer from a photograph — that is, it’s NOT a quick “read.”

  4. Brad Warthen

    Never mind.
    AFTER I output the page to proofs, I decided that the little kids — while that photo reproduced the best — didn’t work as well as the one of the old people. Samuelson writes about the persistence of cultural influences that keep people in poverty. Old people suggest entrenched culture far better than little kids do.
    So I just swapped out the photos, and made one more proof, just so I could gauge how much I was losing in contrast and clarity…


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