The documentary photographer’s goal is to present images of the state of the world. He or she hopes they will serve as a wake-up call. The idea is to convince people that things are not right and should be changed.
In the late 1800s, it became possible to use photographs to document, or show, social issues. Two of the most talented early documentary photographers were Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine. Their photos showed side-effects of the Industrial Revolution. These included child labor, tenement life, and the miserable situation of immigrants. Riis and Hine wanted to bring about change through their images. They did. Partly because of their powerful and revolutionary work, people became aware of the awful conditions in which “the other half” lived and worked. Slowly, reforms took place.