Three Incredible Stories Behind Photos

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A true photographer has the gift of capturing the beauty and truth in every moment. And although Elliott Erwitt used to say that "the whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words," knowing the background story helps to understand an artist’s intention.

1. Children of Black Dust

© Shehzad Noorani

The photo series Children of the Black Dust: Child Labor in Bangladesh was created by the Bangladeshi photographer Shehzad Noorani. He mostly focuses on social problems in developing countries in his works. In the suburbs of Dhaka, there used to be hundreds of factories and workshops that recycled dry-cell batteries. The main working force there consisted of women and children who had to spend the whole day extracting reusable and metal parts from used batteries. Such an environment was extremely harmful to children as they inhaled millions of carbon dust particles that inevitably led to chest and eye infections.

2. Jane Goodall

© Baron Hugo Van Lawick, National Geographic

In this photograph taken by Dutch wildlife filmmaker and photographer Hugo Van Lawick, a little chimpanzee named Flint meets Jane Goodall, a world-famous primatologist, for the first time. To avoid arousing the suspicion of Flint’s protective mother and show that she means no harm, Goodall extends only the back of her hand, turning away the fingers. Being one of the most successful primatologists of all times, Goodall discovered that chimpanzees can use tools the way humans do. The Gombe chimps use grass to hunt for their favorite food of termites: they insert it into a termite mound, and when termites fully cover the branch, they remove it and enjoy the meal. It’s interesting that Goodall had no university degree when she first went to Tanzania. But, thanks to her groundbreaking research and accomplishments, she was allowed to study for a PhD at Newnham College without having a bachelor’s degree.

3. Leap Into Freedom

© Peter Leibing

On August 15, 1961, 19-year-old photographer Peter Liebing was informed by the police that something worth his attention would happen. So he arrived at the Western border, where the Berlin Wall would later be constructed, and he saw a young GDR border guard trying to remain calm. 2 other guards were on the other side of the road. Nothing happened for hours, but then Schumann ran and jumped over the barbed wire.

Schumann was the first of many GDR border guards to defect from East Germany. While for some people this photo was a symbol of freedom during the Cold War, others saw him as a traitor as he left his family on the other side of the wall. Later, when Schumann spoke publicly about the reasons for his decision, he mentioned that he "didn’t want to be put into a situation where he would have to shoot someone."

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