A man floats in the 57th-floor swimming pool of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, with the skyline of the Singapore financial district behind him, in 2013 (Paolo Woods and Gabriele Galimberti/Institute)

Tong, 29, poses for her wedding pictures at Princess Studio, a wedding photo studio in Shanghai, in 2013 (Guillaume Herbaut/Institute)

Could there be a better time for us to look around and examine our lives and those of our fellow humans? In the United States, we are full steam ahead into what is turning out to be an eye-opening, if not outright contentious, election season. And nearly front and center is the issue of income inequality. We have heard that the middle class is disappearing, and that CEOs are making vastly more than the armies of people they employ. We have heard and are being told over and over again that the 1 percent holds all the chips, all the money. Myles Little, a photo editor and curator in New York City has noticed all of this and decided to help us visualize what is happening in a new book called “1%: Privilege in a Time of Global Inequality.” (Hatje Cantz, 2016)

Little takes as his inspiration, or starting point, Edward Steichen’s seminal 1955 photo exhibition, The Family of Man. The Family of Man sought to show”the essential oneness of mankind” through some 500 documentary images grouped together under common themes linking man to man.

With “1%,” Little takes a different approach. Instead of focusing on the equality of humankind, Little chose to look at inequality — some pictures are of the super wealthy and some of the less than wealthy. The book throws a light on our current circumstances, or as Little said in a statement: “In curating 1%: Privilege in a Time of Global Inequality, I have tried to gather images that examine wealth globally and in many different ways….I selected a small number of polished, well-crafted, medium format photographs by some of today’s best photographers. I wanted to borrow the language of privilege and use it to observe and critique privilege.”

(Captions are from the book.)


Residents, Vaalkoppies (Beaufort West Rubbish Dump), 2006 (Mikhael Subotzky, courtesy Goodman Gallery)

Maids prepare a room for a guest in a wealthy Kenyan household, 2011. (Guillaume Bonn/Institute)

Jeff Koons, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 2012. (Henk Wildschut)

A chef from a nearby luxury lodge waits for his guests to arrive from a hot air balloon excursion before serving them champagne in the middle of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, 2012. (Guillaume Bonn/Institute)

Varvara in Her Home Cinema, Moscow, 2010 (Anna Skladmann)

Legless Star Cleaner on the Hollywood Walk of Fame 2005 (Juliana Sohn)

A 25-year-old British man in London undergoes surgery to reduce the size of his nose, 2011 (Zed Nelson)

A street preacher in New York appeals to Wall Street to repent, 2011. (Christopher Anderson/Magnum Photos)

1%: Privilege in a Time of Global Inequality” originally began as a photo exhibit that traveled the world. Previously, Ana Swanson at Wonkblog wrote about that exhibit.  You can read that story here.