Photo series on cotton and exploitation

In society today, we as consumers are a part of a large, complexed, on going cycle. Our economy is driven by business which reflects the culture that exists. It is both positive and negative that our society’s premise is a business model. Consumers need various solutions for their issues or ideas for their individual needs. The freedom to exchange goods and services to receive profit which is regulated by the law seems rather fair on the surface. However, that freedom like many freedoms can be taken too far. In his photo series, Franko states that, “profit over people” is the ideology that propels some of the world’s most profitable businesses. I believe that is where it becomes an overreach as a freedom.

After reading A Glimpse at the workers who make your clothes, you remember that businesses have a social responsibility to their consumers and their workers from which they rely upon to receive profit and success. When businesses take advantage of either the consumer or the worker it constitutes hypocrisy. Exploitation lives in the holes of the law. Otis speaks out about how some large corporations are wanting to shift production to countries where wages are lower and are not protected by law. “What emerged, he said, was a story of exploitation, where the quest of corporations to find cheaper production in the globalized economy obscures the human cost”. The photos open your eyes to what you don’t physically see each and everyday but, what some corporations see, expect and normalize. This investigative journalism in this case, asks what about the lives of the employees? Are they giving more than they are receiving? What would it mean for companies to rightfully compensate their employees? What can we as consumers demand from companies who charge us and neglect their employees their compensation?


The photographs definitely help the story. I think that with most physical evidence or proof we tend to compare and connect better. The photographs are also edited in a chronological order with no splash of color. The editing introduces the idea of this being an issue of the past but yet currently still remains an issue. When i see these people who work for these corporations I can’t help but think of slave labor. These employees rarely see minimum wage. From the photographs, we can clearly see that their work most certainly is not freelanced or volunteered. These workers are not being compensated fairly. These shots range from young girls and boys to older women and men who seem to be working daily within extreme conditions. They are picking, sorting, harvesting, and carrying cotton. The photos show an owner of one of the farms. Mr. Button is shown laying down waiting for his employees to begin their work. While some local factories gave workers a place to sleep, I would have to say that the reason why those people did not have places to begin with is because they are not being rightly compensated for their time. Therefore, it does not justify the factory in giving them a place to stay. These photos also explore the finished products we see at places such as Urban Outfitters in London. The pictures work well in the order they were placed because, there is cohesion.

They show you the process of the factory work step by step which strongly demonstrates how these workers are treated at various factories. I believe that Franko explored why today is much like the past. It explains why he precisely chose to make the first photo of “[a] farmer picking cotton in a field near Toussiana, in Burkina Faso, in December 2015 and the last photo being of [a] retail clothing store in London. September 2016”. The captions show different periods of time, places, and work which ultimately give the story facts. I just find it exploitative that they would sell a pair of jeans for $30 and up but will not fully compensate the workers who created those very jeans they are selling for profit.



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