Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
November 1, 2015

Skid Row Halloween

The photos are from a Reuters slide show with the same title as above. The caption of the photo reads:

Children participate in the School on Wheels Skid Row Halloween Parade for children who live in shelters, motels, cars and on the street, in Los Angeles, California, United States, October 30, 2015.

If the photo invites us to pause and consider what’s on this child’s mind, the picture also makes the awkward suggestion that, beyond the celebration and considering the background, he wears a larger, frightful life on his sleeve.

I’d be interested to know what other photo editors and photo publishers think of this story. Were homeless children being used for the purpose of having that intriguing a photo package for October 31st? Is its exploitive for these largely invisible kids to get this kind of focus when poverty, homelessness and abandonment gets so little airtime otherwise?

And where are the critical details as the kids, in photo after photo, are seen to be either parading, or trick-or-treating past rows of people living in tents or boxes. Was there a safer and healthier place the kids are either going to or coming from? Did they get off the street? Shouldn’t a photo gallery answer more questions, especially one this discomforting, than it raises?

In this case, the way the child and the woman with him cast their eyes on the woman on the ground, it’s not like the child is getting any relief or separation for harsh reality at all.

I have to wonder, also, about the role of this barefoot woman, someone certainly due visual protection. If what she’s wearing random? I hope not, because the photo makes the inference, the way she looks upon the kids, is aligned with the flow and hold the edge of the tunic, that she’s also in costume.

(photos: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

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