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JACOB A. RIIS
[1849 – 1914] American investigative [muckraking] photojournalist
I came to take up photography ... not exactly as a pastime. It was never that for me. I had to use it, and beyond that I never went. - Jacob A. Riis

When the report was submitted to the Health Board the next day, it did not make much of an impression... until my negatives, still dripping from the dark-room, came to reinforce them. From them there was no appeal. - Jacob A. Riis

The more I live, the more I think that humor is the saving sense. - Jacob A. Riis

When the report was submitted to the Health Board the next day, it did not make much of an impression—these things rarely do, put in mere words—until my negatives, still dripping from the dark-room, came to reinforce them. From them there was no appeal. - Jacob A. Riis

I do not want [photography] explained to me in terms of... formulas, learned, but so hopelessly unsatisfying. I do not want my butterfly stuck on a pin and put in a glass case. I want to see the sunlight on its wings as it flits from flower to flower and I don’t care a rap what its Latin name may be. - Jacob A. Riis

It was not too much to say that our party carried terror wherever it went. The flashlight of those days was carried in cartridges fired from a revolver. The spectacle of half a dozen strange men invading a house in the midnight hour armed with big pistols which they shot off recklessly was hardly reassuring, however sugary our speech, and it was not to be wonder at if the tenants bolted through windows and down fire-escapes wherever we went. - Jacob A. Riis

When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before. - Jacob A. Riis

We used to go in the small hours of the morning to the worst tenements... and the sights I saw there gripped my heart until I felt that I must tell of them, or burst, or turn anarchist, or something... I wrote, but it seemed to make no impression. One morning, scanning my newspaper at the breakfast table, I put it down with an outcry that startled my wife, sitting opposite. There it was, the thing I had been looking for all these years. A four-line dispatch from somewhere in Germany, if I remember right, had it all. A way had been discovered, it ran, to take pictures by flashlight. The darkest corner might be photographed that way. - Jacob A. Riis

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