Austerity and Prosperity- Research

Jonas Bendiksen

Jonas Bendiksen- The places we live

Jonas Bendiksen- Magnum

This series of images were taken in various slums around the world between the years 2005-2008.


Most of the images were taken at night with largely available light (I would assume as there is no visible use of flash). This leads me to believe that the ISO would be higher than normal to make the images bright enough, however, unlike Laura El-Tantawy’s (Laura El-Tantawy website) work, they don’t appear to be noisy.

Most of his images also include residents of the slums, often showing that money doesn’t necessarily mean happiness. I’d like to achieve something similar in my work as I’m anticipating the area of Jakarta I will be shooting in will be developing.

Although a lot of his work is based around austerity, he has done work around prosperity which shows more lavish people and parts of the world.


I would say that this image has been taken from the hip as a snapshot because of the slightly slanted angle of it. As the weather is obviously bright, and there are no visible hot spots, I can assume that a flash has not been used, and instead available light has been used. The use of available light seems to be a theme in Bendiksen’s work (as seen in images above and below).

Olivia Arthur

Olivia Arthur- Making Ground

The project “Making Ground” was a commission by Water Aid which enabled Olivia Arthur to travel to two regions of East Africa. Both regions were different, but similar in the sense that they had little to no access to water and sanitation. Therefore this project ultimately shows austerity in developing countries. All of the images within the project have context given to them through their backgrounds and accompanying text told by the subject in the image.


This image is taken using natural lighting. A fairly high aperture has been used to drop the background out of focus and separate the subject from the background. It also looks like Olivia Arthur dropped down to take the image from a lower angle to make the subject look taller and potentially more superior.


I like the juxtaposition of this image. The background and main focal point of the trailer suggest poverty, yet the stall is advertising phone charging, making it seem out of place. Similarly to the first image, the aperture is high, causing the background to drop out of focus. Again, this image was taken using natural light. Judging by the positioning of the person in the background, the image was taken spontaneously as opposed to being planned out, potentially being shot from the hip.

Martin Parr

Martin Parr- Magnum Photos

Although he doesn’t exclusively photograph the rich, Parr’s work often is an example of prosperity within photography as he frequently photographs the ‘finer things in life’.

SWITZERLAND. St Moritz. Snow Polo World Cup. From 'Luxury'. 2011.

This picture was taken with the use of flash; evident in the hot spots in the woman’s glasses, as well as the subject being separated from the background. It’s likely that Parr crouched down to the same level as the subjects as opposed to shooting on the hip. As well as this, the aperture being used was fairly high which caused the background to drop out of focus. This is similar to a lot of his work.


The image has likely been shot from the hip because the angle is very straight indicating that Parr did not crouch etc. As well as that, there is a slight motion blur on the subject’s hand which suggests that he was capturing a moment, potentially not to the knowledge of the subject.  Again, the aperture seems high as the background is out of focus and the use of flash is evident in the hot spots within the image, namely on the hot dog sausages and the reflection on the sequined dress.I personally like the juxtaposition between the clothing on the subject in the below image and the food that they’re eating. It seems to make the prosperous people in the images somehow more relatable and less perfect.


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