The documentary photographer wants to show the world images of itself. He or she hopes the photos will make people see what’s going on more clearly. The idea is to reveal things that should be changed.
In the late 1800s, photography was changing. Photos became a way to expose social issues. Two of the most talented early documentary photographers were Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine. Their photos revealed side-effects of the Industrial Revolution. These included child labor, tenement life, and the misery of immigrants. Riis and Hine wanted their images to bring about changes. They did. Partly because of their moving, groundbreaking photos, people became aware of the bad conditions in which “the other half” lived and worked. Slowly, reforms took place.