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Since the birth of photography in the nineteenth century, we have abundant evidence of photographers whose work demonstrates an interest in social problems and world events.
However, some photographers have dedicated their entire work to such issues. These photographers act as role models for social documentary and environmental photography:

  A journalist who denounced social inequalities and used photos to illustrate the articles he wrote about the living conditions of poor people in New York .
  Conscious of the disappearance of a way of life, he was a determined and talented collector of photographs (300 000 in total) of the First Nations people (Aboriginals) of North America for more then thirty years.
  This incredible group of photographers studied rural America during the Depression, bore witness to the social chaos, the mass migration and the psychological damage...
 

He championed devoted, unsung heros, his photos angrily protest against war, misery and injustice.

With the increase in the importance of photography in our society and the rapidly growing number of photographers, the number of photo essays addressing social and environmental issues has multiplied.

This evolution reveals that photographers are conscious of their role and responsability. It also demonstrates that photography is effective in capturing and communicating social and environmental issues.
 
Photography is a small voice.


"… Much depends upon the viewer; in some, photographs can summon enough emotion to be a catalyst to thought. Someone - or perhaps many - among us may be influenced to heed reason, to find a way to right that which is wrong, and may even be inspired perhaps to the dedication needed to search for the cure to an illness. The rest of us may perhaps feel a greater sense of understanding and compassion for those whose lives are alien to our own. Photography is a small voice. It is an important voice in my life, but not the only one. I believe in it . If it is well-conceived, it sometimes works "
W. Eugene Smith
 

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