Jacob Holdt/ American Pictures.

“I had just helped her catch a huge snake outside her shack. When the moon was coming up she stood all evening in her doorway looking out over the fields. She had no electricity. She died two years later. I still visit the remains of her rotten shack and sit dwelling there at night.”

Text and images by Jacob Holdt.



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Sleeping migrant workers/ Immokalee/ Florida
Caption and images by Jacob Holdt.

I never liked the first edition of Jacob Holdt´s “American Pictures”. The layout was chaotic, his images and print quality were, as I felt, bad.
Meanwhile the book is stowed away in the cellar, and the reprint I just ordered, is hopefully better printed and designed.

Jacob Holdt has put his images, around 20 000 of them, more or less without any visible order, up his website. I started to rummage around in his gallery, and after having invested some time I didn’t have the heart to quit, or to do less.
Jacob Holdt has stayed an amateur up to these days. He hardly makes any selection, and doesn’t show up any visual relationships.
His images are, most of the time, technically bad and visually inhomogeneous.

But my fascination is undiminished respective the manner how he came to his photographs. Jacob Holdt was traveling the years 1970 to 1975 without any money through the U.S.A and didn’t stop taking pictures. I am impressed by the quality of some of his images. Because he doesn’t know about the rules, maybe he just doesn’t care; he comes up with unique pictorial solutions. Actually it doesn’t matter, if his technique is bad, becoming integral part of his intense images.

Jacobs Holdt is biased. His heart is on the side of the black underclass. White folks, because of their privileged position, come of badly in his comparison.
Forty years have gone by since he has made his images. They still have a big impact on me.

Raw and intense, they represent a clear-cut position and show us, how the life of the underprivileged black society might have looked like.

Times must have changed by now.
They have to have changed.


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Found at “American Pictures” by Jacob Holdt.

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Linda and her mother at sunset


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So poor were they in Linda´s family-right next to Disney World in Florida-that they rarely had light before I moved in with them. I had just stayed with with some millionaires in Palm Beach and had a little “millionaire money” with me so I could buy kerosene for their old lamp. Linda ran out to meet her father when we walked home in the darkness, shouting:”Dad, dad, we got a present…see,see$ light..we got light!” Well the joy didn´t last forever.” Today I have to visit Linda in prison whenever I want to see her. The scars from childhood poverty eventually defeated her.

Text and images by Jacob Holdt.




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Welfare mother in New Jersey
I lived on and off with Nell and her daughter in the crime-ridden “projects”.She couldn´t pay her monthly rent of 59$ and was eventually evicted. Now she is homeless and walking inthe streets of New York.

Text and images by Jacob Holdt.




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Cain´s brother
While I lived with 15-year-old Larry here and his mother in Virginia, his 13-year-old brother lay in hospital, hit in a gang fight by the brother´s bullet, which penetrated his head and made him blind. Nevertheless, I followed Larry in the streets two days after the tragedy on his expeditions. After 14 years in prisonhe is today unskilled laborer.

Text by Jacob Holdt.




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“When I brought kerosene for their old lamp it was the first time Linda was able to do homework at night. Previously I had seen her read in the moonlight.”



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3 thoughts on “Jacob Holdt/ American Pictures.

  1. Pingback: jacob holdt

  2. Would love to get Jacob’s email address, so I can revisit with him and hsi family, having met him in Copenhagen many many years ago.
    Rosemarie Greene

    • Sorry, I don´t have his adress, but you will find his homepage with google.

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