Photo Essays, Spot News and Stock Photography

Archive for ‘December, 2022’

U. S. c.1905


You have to ask yourself just how many cotton pickers (nee: slaves) would it take to pick this much cotton? That was my first thought upon seeing this photo. A virtual mountain of cotton bales waiting for shipment on a dock as far as the eye could see. You need to see something like this to understand the magnitude and also the attended suffering of cotton pickers in this industry.

Cotton Mountain“; U. S. c.1905

Kyiv, Ukraine (July 13, 2014)


Glory to Ukraine! I grew up with my mother’s family. I remember as a child asking my grandmother where in Europe did our family come from? The answer was Austria-Hungary. I didn’t think much of it at the time. As I learned later the Austro-Hungarian Empire was on the losing side in World War I. But as my family seemed well educated I assumed that the family’s roots were probably in Vienna, a great cultural capital at the time. Assume nothing. Many decades later using I discovered that one of my grandmother’s brothers who emigrated from Europe along with my great grandparents and a sister listed Kolomiyya as his home of record. My grandmother had spoke often of Galacia, which also no longer exists except in the memory of the very old. Kolomiyya is located on the east bank of the Prut River in what today is Ukraine. At the time it was at the very far eastern edge of the Austro-Hungarian realm. I would argue that the family in earlier times had migrated from central Europe eastward to eventually settle in Kolomiyya. Kolomiyya was a thriving city offering good opportunities. There were many other families living there with the same surname as my great grandparents. Over time, things got ugly and my great grandparents along with two of their eventually six children left by a ship using steam power and sails for America from Hamburg in the 1890s. So this is my connection to Ukraine.

From the moment the first Russian tank crossed into Ukraine Putin’s fate was sealed. He is finished, but he doesn’t yet know it. Mikhail Gorbachev once said that Russia cannot live without Ukraine. Probably true. It’s too cold in Russia to grow the food necessary to support its people. Ukraine has lots of wheat. Russia has lot of oil and gas. It seems to be a simple matter of a trade agreement in the 21st century. No need for an invasion. Ukraine will always, geographically speaking, be next to Russia. But Ukraine has a brutal history of relations with Russia going back to Catherine the Great and more recently Stalin. They will never surrender to what they know is in store for them if Putin is successful. You cannot think that Ukraine is the endgame for Putin. Moldova would surely be next followed by the Baltic nations. By the way, my father’s ancestors came from Lithuania. Eventually, Putin would move on the rest of eastern Europe. Let us not make another Sudetenland out of Ukraine.

Remember. “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out-because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me-and there was no one to speak for me.”  — Martin Niemöller.

Ukrainian Nationalist Flags“; Kyiv, Ukraine July 13, 2014.  Photo by Sean Work/DPI


“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” — Edmund Burke

"Ukraine: The Queue" c.1950


With all due respect to the lovely young women in this photo my attention was drawn to the line of people stretching for several blocks behind them. During Soviet times consumer goods were always scarce especially Western imports. As these goods were made available people often chose to take time off from work in the hopes of obtaining them. The queue in this photo represents such a situation. You don’t really think that they were lining up for concert tickets, do you? Anyway, one item often mentioned at the time was Italian ladies shoes. Bear in mind that even if you managed to get to the front of the line the shoes given to you might be the wrong size. The people knew this but because they had value the shoes could be bartered for something else. So was the state of the economy for decades until the Soviet Union finally collapsed. Their command economy was driven to build weapons not consumer goods.

Ukraine” The Queue” c.1950

St. Louis: Cole and 16th Streets


I would argue that most photojournalists are not particularly concerned with lighting situations, but rather only to the extent as to whether there is enough light to capture the image. In the studio lighting can be controlled. In the real world perfect lighting is fleeting. A cloud covers the sun for a moment. Reflections, rain and all sorts of interruptions to a perfect lighting condition are possible. So it is that “St. Louis: Cole & 16th Streets” c.1949 is all the more remarkable for capturing the decisive moment as Henri Cartier-Bresson would say.