Documentary photography shows us exactly what our world looks like at any given moment in time. Whether the pictures are bleak, playful, angering or astounding, they all serve a historically significant purpose.
Below we present 15 Heart Touching Documentary Photo Stories. All photos are linked and lead to the sources from which they were taken. Please feel free to explore further works of these photographers on their collections or their personal sites.
Sudan Famine by Radhika Chalasani
A two-year drought in southern Sudan provided the ground work from which violence and repression would generate famine. The famine itself was a man-made natural disaster, the result of the continued civil war ravaging the region and violations of the rules of war by all sides. War disrupted the planting season and thousands were displaced by the fighting and raids on civilian villages. By late 1998 some 250,000 people in Bahr El Ghazal, many internally displaced, were at risk of starvation.
Congo – Rape of a Nation by Marcus Bleasdale
Bonded workers crush rocks in Mongbwalu, eastern Congo. Whole families work in slave conditions for warlords, controlling huge amounts of land, where gold is extracted to finance their military campaigns.
Bhopal Gas Tragedy by Raghu Rai
Raghu Rai, who covered the world’s worst industrial disaster in Bhopal, India in 1984, has returned 17 years later to photograph the despair of those who survived, published in the book “Exposure” for Greenpeace International, 2002.
Darkness Visible by Seamus Murphy
Outsiders often see Afghanistan as a problem in need of a solution: a conflict region that needs more troops or another election. But in seeing Afghanistan as a problem, the people of the country, and their desire for self-determination, are often overlooked.
Death Traps: Tales of a Mega Community by Abir Abdullah
Fire is an ever present death threat for the entire community of Dhaka city. From homes and workplaces to shopping malls and public spaces, a lack of building codes and fire protection have created a situation where residents are living in a continual death trap. And due to lack of training and proper rescue equipment for the fire service authority, fire accidents are responsible for the destruction of assets and homes as well as lives. The widespread lack of equipment and protection means fire deaths affect nearly everyone, from working class to middle class, and even the elites.
Child Labor by Matt Moyer
Children work making pottery in Cairo Egypt.
Born to Work by GMB Akash
Child labour is not a new issue in Bangladesh. as children remain here one of the most vulnerable groups living under threats of hunger, illiteracy, displacement, exploitation, trafficking, physical and mental abuse. Although the issue of child labor has always been discussed, there is hardly any remarkable progress even in terms of mitigation.
Children of Black Dust by Shehzad Noorani
As she cleans the carbon rods from exhausted D-cell batteries, Marjina holds her young child on her lap and gently lulls her to sleep. Marjina migrated from the countryside to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh with her son and four daughters after her husband died. Now she toils every day in a workshop by the Buriganga River that recycles used batteries.
Pakistan Floods 2011, Sindh Province by Liz Loh-Taylor
We drove for about 60kms through roads that were severely flooded. For 60kms we saw hectares upon hectares of crops destroyed by the flood. This was only a small part of the Sindh province in Southern Pakistan. 22 out of the 23 districts in Sindh have been inundated. 5 million people have been affected and nearlya million homes flooded.
Food Crisis in Malawi by David Gillanders
It is estimated that 4.9 million people are at risk as a result of food shortages in Malawi this year, 2006 (USAID). 48% of children under the age of 5 are stunted, and 5% severely malnourished. The under 5’s mortality rate is currently 133 per 1000 live births (UNICEF).
Dream of the Rich North by Janet Jarman
Each year, tens of thousands of Mexicans cross the border into the United States searching for better life in ‘El Norte,’ where they are likely to disappear into a black hole of anonymity, exploitation and uncertainty, their lives and contributes often misunderstood. Over the past few years, their status has become even more precarious while a public debate in the U.S. rages about how government policy should regulate undocumented immigration.
GABURA – A Village of Sorrow by Andrew Biraj
Gabura, an isolated village nears the great Sundarbann, the largest mangrove forest in the world. For decades, it was a story of scarcity, there was no safe water for drinking, and whatever there was, it was full of saline. Now after 2009, after the deadly cyclone Aila, amost everything is destroyed, killing more than 200 people.
Escaping the Violence, Finding Peace in Ecuador by Caroline Bennett
The refugee crises spawned by ongoing conflict in Colombia has left millions displaced, making the country second only to Sudan in nations with the most internal refugees. Unable to stay in their home country, hundreds of thousands have made their way across the border to Ecuador, but often the problems integrating into society due to discrimination and lack of documentation.
Condemned By Robin Hammond
CONDEMNED documents the mental health impacts of crises in Africa – the trauma of mass rape, the grief of death in war, the insecurity of displacement. It illustrates what happens to the most vulnerable when governments implode and health systems collapse.
Living in the Shadows by Charlie Mahoney
Everyday thousands of sub-Saharan Africans try to enter Europe by crossing the divide that separates the two continents. Those that make it to Spain are customarily detained while the Spanish authorities attempt to determine their age and nationality. Because of a complexity of reasons, including insufficient government funding, the lack of repatriation agreements between..
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