In the early 1960s, American photographer Carl Barks created a series of images of people in the slushiest places in America: The deep slums of Detroit, the decaying cities of New Orleans, and the slum areas of New York City.
The photos were an attempt to capture the people living in those places and their struggles to survive.
Barks was the first person to use photos of slums to document the conditions they lived in.
These photographs captured the reality of life for the poor, and it’s one of the things that sets the pictures apart.
“What I saw in New Orleans was the worst thing I’ve ever seen,” says Barks.
“You had this vast number of people with nothing to eat.
You had this enormous slum that was going to become the headquarters of a major corporation.
That’s what I saw.”
The images inspired a generation of photographers to follow Barks’ lead.
“It was a really wonderful thing to have in your portfolio,” says Sarah Wollenberg, a photographer who is working on her first book about the slums, The Slums: America’s Forgotten Slums.
“If you had these beautiful images of this huge, empty place and you were able to capture people who were literally walking down the street in the middle of the night, that’s a real moment.”
Wollenburg, who was born in New York, was raised in New Jersey and grew up in a suburb of Newark, New Jersey, which has the second-highest concentration of poor people in America.
She was moved to New York at the age of six to pursue her art and has spent the past four years photographing slums in New England and New York.
“I wanted to do a series on New York and its slums because the photos really brought it home to me that these people were struggling,” she says.
“And it’s something I’ve wanted to photograph for so long.”
In 2012, Wollers mother, Joan Wollheim, passed away from cancer.
After moving to the United States from New Jersey with her family, she started a photography business with her husband and started shooting with her father, who also worked in the film industry.
The couple opened a photography studio in East Hampton, New York in 2013.
Their studio focuses on documenting people’s experiences in the United Kingdom and has since received acclaim from publications like The Guardian, The Atlantic, and The Independent.
Wolles mother’s work in the UK has also been recognized with a National Book Award nomination.
Wolls photography has also inspired a number of other photographers, including Rachel Dorey, who spent three years working in New Zealand with the New Zealand Film Archive and was named one of New Zealand’s top 100 photographers by the New York Times in 2016.
“My mother’s pictures were a real reminder of what life was like for a lot of people,” she tells New Scientist.
“They reminded me how much it meant to me to be here.”
One of the best examples of slum life is in the photos of the sludgy swimming pools of New Jersey.
“A lot of the photos were of people swimming in these swimming pools that were literally being filled with water,” says Wollings mother, Wissenberg.
“People were swimming in the pools, and then they were just going to drown.”
These photos show the slop that was created for the swimming pool and how people in those pools were forced to live.
The pool was a symbol of poverty and isolation.
“In the early days, they used to call the swimming pools, like, ‘We’ve got no water,’ ” Wollens mother recalls.
“So, the pools became a place where people were pushed to the edge, where they couldn’t go.
And I think they were really scared of the water.”
This image shows the pools in New Brunswick, New Brunswick.
“When you see pictures of sloshing water, it really does remind you of the people who had nowhere else to go,” Wollows mother says.
In addition to documenting the slothlike conditions in slums and their daily lives, Wolls mother and her husband were also fascinated by the culture of the places where people lived.
“There were very few things in New Jerseys history that were actually recorded,” says Rachel Dokey.
“The only people that were really alive in the town were the people in New Netherland.”
She describes New Jersey as a place of “people who are kind of like, you know, there’s nothing else, and there’s no culture, no language, no history.”
But the images show that the people of New Jersey didn’t have it all figured out.
“We saw a lot more people,” says Doke.
“That’s why you see so many people there in the pictures.
And there were just these images of them.”
A photographer who captured this image of a group of children in New Haven,