The Face of Poverty

When you think or talk about poverty what images come to mind? What do you picture poverty looking like?

Is your picture of poverty shaped by imagery of world hunger shown through malnutrition, emaciated bodies, distended bellies or dirty and unclothed toddlers with flies on their faces?

Do your images of poverty include smiling and laughing children? Can you imagine poverty pictures in which the faces in the photos, the "face of poverty," express the subject's full dignity?

Expressing Need While Maintaining Dignity

In our poverty photography, we believe in being honest about the challenges the poor face. We seek to handle the issue of poverty with respect and to portray the poor in ways that show hope and the promise of a positive future. We strongly believe in upholding the dignity of the poor.

A poor African girl with a serious and dignified expression stands with a hand on her hip

Our poverty images communicate need — if there is no need why sponsor a child — but the need in our photos is shown through expressions or other contextual conditions.

We work hard to portray the dignity of the poor in our photographs. We view the poor through Jesus' eyes. Our imagery does not portray "the pornography of poverty," where poor men, women and children lose their dignity because a picture focuses overwhelmingly on the brutality of their condition or environment.

Our pictures of poverty are meant to show the dignity and hope which live within the poor despite the oppression poverty inflicts upon them.

Children and families living in poverty face many challenges. They have many needs. But they also have many riches. The experience of the poor creates powerful images, but the power shouldn't come from the pain the poor endure. It should come from the dignity each person photographed living in poverty inherently has because he or she is made in God's image.

The pictures of smiling and laughing children you see on compassion.com don’t mean that poverty is absent in their lives or that need isn't present. The smiling and laughing just mean that "light shines in the darkness" (John 1:5, NIV).

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Please call us at (800) 336-7676, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. MT to speak with a Compassion Representative.

Pictures of Poverty - Compassion International