Danny Lyon

Danny Lyon, American, born 1942
Joselin, Santa Marta, Colombia, 1972
from a 1979 portfolio of 30 photographs
gelatin silver print, 8 11/16 x 13 in. (22 x 33 cm)
Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The William A. Whitaker Foundation Art Fund

Danny Lyon changed the idea of the documentary by acknowledging the culture of those he photographed, therefore altering the emotional context. Joselin, a 1972 silver gelatin print of homeless children in Santa Marta, Colombia, shows a society divided by poverty. And yet, these children are united in their collaborative struggle for survival. The two children depicted in the photograph – both smoking cigarettes – have nothing but their tattered clothing, scraps of cardboard and string, and a can of oatmeal illustrating a lack of attention by authorities or parental individuals. Their struggle is also emphasized by the lack of color in the print. The stark contrast integrates emotion through a sense of conscience (the inner sense of what is right or wrong), a technique used by many documentary photographers.

~Jailene Nieves

An extended look at Danny Lyon’s Joselin by Jailene Nieves