What Are the Most Famous Pictures That Show Poverty?


Quick Answer

Some famous photographs of poverty are Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother," Gordon Parks's portrait of Flavio da Silva in the slums of Rio de Janeiro and Kevin Carter's "The Vulture and the Little Girl." These stark images reflect the hunger and hopelessness of the poor.

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Full Answer

Dorothea Lange photographed her subjects during the Great Depression while working for the United States Resettlement Administration. "Migrant Mother" features Florence Thompson, a poor agricultural laborer, and her children. It became the most iconic photograph of the Great Depression. This photo evokes the hopelessness and desperation of poverty in the Dust Bowl.

Gordon Parks traveled to Brazil in 1961 to record life in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. Parks focused on the Flavio da Silva family and their suffering from hunger, inadequate housing and lack of medical care. His portraits of an ill and exhausted child, Flavio da Silva, became the most famous works in his photo essay. Parks's photographs caused a public outcry against poverty and an intense emotional response from his audience.

The 1993 photograph "The Vulture and the Little Girl" earned South African photojournalist Kevin Carter a Pulitzer Prize. Carter took the photo in Sudan during a famine. The vulture in this picture seems like a symbol of death itself as it waits behind a skeletal child. Carter received criticism for taking the picture and not helping the child to the food station. However, he pointed out that foreigners risked transmitting diseases to the starving people if they touched them. The photographer later committed suicide due to depression.

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