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HineSight: an overview

For seven years, from 2006 to 2013, the Lewis Hine Documentary Fellows Program, based at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, sent documentary Fellows to Boston to work with local nonprofit organizations focused on the lives and experiences of marginalized women, adolescents, and children. The goals of the program are twofold: to increase the number of committed young documentarians working in the humanitarian field and to demonstrate the genuine impact that documentary work can have.

Over the course of this sustained work in Boston, a familiar question arose: How might we measure and communicate the multiple dimensions of the impact of these documentary projects? While models exist that establish metrics and tools for quantifying emotional responses to documentaries, we at the Hine Fellows program wondered if we might use documentary work itself to gauge impact in ways that could not be captured through more quantitative approaches. In 2013–2014 we asked filmmaker and photographer Natalie Minik to spend time in Boston to see if she could evoke, through her own research and video production, the cumulative effect of documentary work over time in one major American city. Hine Sight: Seven Years of Lewis Hine Fellowships in Boston is the result of Minik’s efforts.

As part of her own Hine Fellowship, Minik produced the five videos featured on this site. In creating them, she explored the impact of former Hine Fellows’ documentary work on the individuals and families portrayed in their projects, on the neighborhoods these individuals live in, and on the organizations that are attempting to help them improve their lives. And finally she was interested in the former Hine Fellows themselves. What impact did working on these documentaries have on their own lives and careers? Minik believes, as do we at the Lewis Hine Fellows program, that in efforts to measure and assess documentary impact, all of these voices merit our attention.


Founded on the spirit, values, and actions of Lewis Hine, the Lewis Hine Documentary Fellows Program connects the talents of young documentarians with the resources and needs of organizations serving children and their communities around the world.

In a novel, a house or a person has his meaning, his existence entirely through the writer. Here, a house or a person has only the most limited of his meaning through me: his true meaning is much huger. It is that he exists, in actual being, as you do and I do, and as no character of the imagination can possibly exist. His great weight, mystery, and dignity are in this fact. As for me, I can tell you of him only what I saw, only so accurately as in my terms I know how: and this in turn has its chief stature not in any ability of mine, but in the fact that I too exist not as a work of fiction, but as a human being.

James Agee from Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

Revisiting: Raising Them Right – quote

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What is the impact on a young woman’s life to have a child as a teenager? And how does that teen mother’s circumstances affect her children? Photographer Amanda Van Scoyoc asked these and other questions as she came to know a group of teen mothers in 2007-2008 while working as a Lewis Hine Fellow with the non-profit Roca in Chelsea, Massachussetts. Amanda asked these same questions again five years later when she brought her camera and recorder along to revisit one of those same mothers, Damaris Navaris and her child, Andrea.

Revisiting: Jack image

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Autism is perhaps one of the most studied and least understood of developmental disabilities in children. When photographer and Hine Fellow Indaia Whitcombe arrived at The Boys and Girls Club of Boston in 2011 to photograph children there, she didn’t expect to be so drawn to Jack, or to see in Jack’s engagement with staff and children at the club lessons that might benefit all kinds of children and families. Jack’s story is narrated by Jessie Bari, the Director of Inclusion at the Boys and Girls Club.

Revisiting Rique’s Story – quote

Revisiting: The Vow – Riqie’s Story













Hine Fellow Cameron Zohoori joined the staff of the United Teen Equality Center (UTEC) in Lowell, Massachusetts in 2012. UTEC is a teen center formed in hopes of engaging former gang members to trade violence and poverty for social and economic success. At UTEC, Zohoori met and became friends with Riqie Wainaina, a charismatic young immigrant from Kenya. Zohoori’s decision to complete and screen Riqie’s story at UTEC – despite Riqie’s setbacks –  gives evidence of the value of a documentary, even if that documentary doesn’t tell the story the filmmaker or the subject of the film hoped it might tell.

Revisiting: Something More Out of Life – quote

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When photographer and Hine Fellow, Gretchen Ferber, arrived at Boston’s United South End Settlements in 2008, she began to document stories of transformation of adults from the community learning to read and furthering their educations later in life. After her fellowship, Ferber realized that her own transformation from photographer to physician had been deeply impacted by her experiences as a documentarian at South End.

Revisiting: The Red Room – quote

Revisiting: The Red Room













In 2007-2008 at Hide Square Task Force in Jamaica Plain, Hine Fellow Christina Wegs found herself drawn to a small red room where David Szebeda, then the music director, and a group of local teens, were creating a music album. As a documentarian, Wegs followed the lives and artistic growth of a number of teens in that room, including Brandon Cook. Now, seven years later Cook, Szebeda, and Wegs revisit the red room, and reflect on the importance of creating a safe space for teens to explore their experiences through music as well as the value of documenting that process.

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Click to see an interactive Google Map of Hine Fellow Placements and Documentary Galleries