Mississippi 1959

Photo Image Gallery

Mississippi 1959
From Harvey Richards’ Mississippi, 1959, Image Gallery

Mississippi 1959 Photo Gallery

The photos in this image gallery are from Mississippi 1959 taken during Harvey Richards’ impromptu tour of Mississippi. It was one of the first photographic journeys he made and it contains his basic approach to photography.

“Everything that you heard on television or on newsreels was terribly warped and twisted…. There was an enormous difference between the world I had seen with my eyes prior to the fifties and the world that I saw in the media. And…prior to my going to the deep south, Martin Luther King might get five seconds, six seconds, seven seconds on an evening news broadcast. The only thing you would get about the conditions of black people in the south would be a few words from the traditional talking head. You never, nobody took cameras into the homes, into the work places, into the fields in areas like that. That is the principal reason why I wanted to go there with a camera. Not to try to do something that was better than somebody else was doing.”  Harvey Richards, from Primary Source Documentaries.

First and foremost, he photographed ordinary people in candid photos of real life. He photographed what was not being photographed subjects left out of the media: devastated forests, poisoned crops, those on the bottom rung of the ladder, the worker, the dispossessed, the poor, and especially children. He did not pursue the famous or the rich unless they came into the scenes he frequented.  Second, he held the camera still, framed the shots, and mastered exposure and lighting to produce vibrant, lasting photographs that tell their own stories.  When he could, he offered his photography to causes and organizations that common people embraced, or that he wished they would embrace.  He focused on movements for change, worker organizing, civil rights, peace, and the environment. He photographed work, mechanization, tools and nature, whether it be a short handled hoe in agriculture or giant log handling equipment in forestry, and always with an eye to the common man and woman who needed some good press.    

Buy or license these photos.

MEDIA – For photos & interviews: Paul Richards (510) 967 5577; paulrichards@estuarypress.com

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