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Essay About Life Struggles Photos

Life can flutter between being terrible and terrific, but sometimes everything can all be proven worth it in just a sliver of time captured on camera.

The Internet has a history of rounding uppowerfulphotographs, but some images just go one step further and change your perspective on life and the challenges presented by the world we live in. All of these photographs may be once in a lifetime shots, but the tragedies and triumphs they document are those millions around the world face every day. We have an ugly and beautiful home, and it's entirely worth fighting for.

Warning: Some of the photos below are graphic.

1. There's this place called Earth. It can often be pretty surprising.

Proposed spending cuts for the Spanish region of Catalonia in 2013 caused this fight to break out in Barcelona between riot police and firefighters afraid they or other public employees may lose their jobs.

2. On this small planet, sometimes immense pain can lead to happiness.

During the 2011 Vegetarian Festival in Phuket, Thailand, attendees performed various body piercings to rid themselves of evil spirits, as well as bring luck to their community.

3. But far too often, this place can be unbelievably treacherous.

This photo was taken moments before the Indian child dove into the overflowing Ganges River as it flooded the region during the country's monsoon season in August of 2013. Thousands were left dead or missing in what was only the very beginning of this particular monsoon season.

4. Humans and nature conspire to destroy homes.

A mud volcano erupted in Indonesia's eastern Java Island in 2006, destroying 12 villages. Excessive gas drilling from the Lapindo Baratas drilling company was blamed. In 2013, these villagers covered themselves in mud to dramatize the destruction of their homes and the ongoing struggle that has ensued.

5. We brave institutional oppression.

A 2013 gay pride rally taking place in St. Petersburg was declared illegal under Russian law for being "gay propaganda," before turning bloody as activists and Russian nationalists clashed. About 40 gay rights supporters made up the rally, while they were surrounded by people throwing rocks, eggs and fists.

6. And just surviving childhood can be a struggle.

This is an orphaned child in the wake of the Haitian earthquake of 2010. Following the devastation, adoptions of orphaned Haitian children were taken on as a relief effort by multiple countries, including the United States.

7. A whole life can change in a flash, no matter where you grow up.

John Fahy Jr. mourns his father and younger brother in 1996, just two months after his mother died of cancer. He was 13 years old. John Fahy and his 6-year-old son, James, were killed by a house fire in which John Jr. and his sister, Meaghan, were the only ones rescued.

8. The world we've come to love can often seem to collapse around us.

A Palestinian family's home in East Jerusalem was demolished in 2013 by the state municipality for not having proper safety permits. The family claimed they were still waiting for the permits to arrive.

9. And in an instant, everything is gone.

The Japanese earthquake of 2011 inflicted a death toll over 15,000 and left much of the country devastated. Nearly 10,000 more people were either injured or labeled missing.

10. So we may sometimes feel powerless.

In 2010, an Iraqi Emergency Response Brigade member searched the family house of this Iraqi child while looking for his father, who had an active arrest warrant. The father was suspected of planting IEDs in Baghdad, Iraq.

11. Wanting nothing else but to fight back.

While protesting the expansion of the Jewish settlement of Halamish into the West Bank in late 2012, a Palestinian girl raised her fist to punch this Israeli soldier.

12. Even when facing all but impossible odds.

Protests led by students opposing the Chilean educational system in 2011 ended up taking a violent turn as protesters and riot police clashed often.

13. But sometimes everything can be too much to handle.

A Chinese paramilitary police recruit being shipped to start his service in the Zhejiang province began to tear up in this photo, taken on Dec. 12, 2010.

14. Sometimes the world seems to hate who it is.

The head of Gay Forum of Ukraine, Svyatoslav Sheremet, was beaten up in 2012 while on his way to announce that a pride parade was being cancelled.

15. And sometimes it may even seem truly heartless.

During a public protest on March 11, 2011 in Niterói, Brazil, a cop named Captain Bruno Schorcht discharged his pepper-spray onto a small girl.

16. Especially for those born into unfortunate circumstances.

30 years after the Vietnam War, many families in more remote villages are still suffering from the effects of the toxic nerve gas dioxin used in Agent Orange. Both of these younger men, pictured here in 2011, are in their twenties and have been suffering with physical and emotional trauma since birth.

17. But in the face of the truly terrible suffering of this world, all we can do is try.

During massive floods taking place in Cuttack City, India, in 2011, a heroic villager saved numerous stray cats by carrying them with a basket balanced on his head.

18. Try and try again.

This photograph, taken in 1967, shows an anti-war protester sticking carnations into the rifle barrels of soldiers protecting the Pentagon.

19. And dare to conquer this complex life.

In Ban Khok, Thailand every household is required to live with a Royal Cobra. Being able to tame the venomous snake is considered a highly respected talent. This photo, taken in April 2010, shows Mr. Vukjow Mare and his cobra.

20. Or make the world seem a bit more magical.

The Space Shuttle Enterprise flew over Manhattan in 2012, on its way to New York City to become a part of the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum as a special exhibit. Although slightly damaged during Hurricane Sandy, the shuttle has reopened to visitors.

21. While always remembering to help those who simply can't help themselves.

In China's Wolong Nature Reserve, panda cubs are released in a highly delicate maneuver where employees wear panda costumes to minimize human interaction.

22. Whether that means fixing what the world has helped to break.

The VA hospital in Des Moines, Iowa provides various healthcare services to veterans, many of them requiring special needs.

23. Or having the decency to be a bit more mindful, especially of those who have been left behind.

Attendees of the 2012 New York Fashion Week posed for an extremely poorly located picture outside of Moynihan Station.

24. With the world as it is, we all sometimes need to be reminded not to jump.

Kevin Berthia was talked out of jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge by this police officer in 2005. He has since become an advocate for suicide prevention and has started a family.

25. Even if everything can sometimes seem quite trivial.

Radio broadcasts have reached out from the world to about a diameter of 200 lightyears, seen to scale in the Milky Way Galaxy above. According to Carl Sagan's science fiction novel, "Contact," Hitler's speech at the Nuremburg rallies might have been the first radio signal strong enough to be ever be picked up by aliens.

26. But there are moments even amongst the greatest despair when the world proves that it's all worth it.

Rosemary McDermott and her husband, Anthony Minor, discovered that their family records had survived the Hurricane Sandy devastation of Breezy Point, Queens in late 2012.

27. When everything that seems to have been lost is somehow given back.

Five-year-old Sahil Saeed is reunited with his mother and father after being kidnapped by gunmen in Pakistan in 2010.

28. When the small blue dot we live on reveals its true beauty, and when we'd never think of jumping.

Alex Honnold is an America rock climber who often goes without any safety ropes to catch him if he makes a mistake and falls. The photo above shows him in the middle of a solo free climb of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park in California.

29. Unless jumping means we're going home.

The highest jump of all time is started by Felix Baumgartner in late 2012. In the 127,851 feet, Baumgartner exceeded the speed of sound.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the subject of the 24th photograph. The man's name is Kevin Berthia.

“While there’s life, there’s hope.”

That was the original motto of a magazine that for more than 100 years documented the lives of people around the world—an unyielding look at the wondrous, the encouraging, and sometimes brutal realities of everyday life.

In 1965, Life Magazine ran a story featuring the photography of Bill Eppridge and following the lives of Johnny and Karen, two heroin addicts living together in “Needle Park”—an area in the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City. The photo essay, which ran along with an article written by Life Associate Editor James Mills, showed Karen and Johnny in the throes of addiction doing what they could to survive.

Opening with a shot of the two dressed up, strolling through the streets of New York City, they look like any other well-heeled couple out for a stroll. At the top of the page the couple’s words tell a drastically different story: “We are animals in a world no one knows.”

The essay documents the lives of Karen and Johnny as they cope with addiction and everything they must do to maintain their supply. Despite both coming from well-off families, Karen deals drugs and becomes a prostitute while Johnny resorts to stealing from cabs, eventually getting arrested for disorderly conduct.

While Johnny is in jail, Eppridge photographs a particularly powerful scene in a hotel room with Karen struggling to keep her dealer Billy alive after an overdose. After taking five tablets of the prescription drug Doriden, Billy mainlines a shot of heroin and nearly passes out. Karen spends two hours keeping Billy on his feet, shouting into his ear, doing anything to keep him awake:

Open your eyes, Billy. Try to wake up. You took too much stuff, Billy. Don’t go to sleep — you might not wake up. You got to fight it Billy! Do you hear me, Billy? Billy. Do you hear me, Billy? You got to fight it. Billy? Billy?

After two hours Billy finally can stand on his own. Karen is pictured laying on the bed watching Billy smoke a cigarette to right himself. Knowing Billy will survive, she does a shot of heroin herself. While there’s life, there’s hope.

Bill Eppridge photographed Karen and Johnny for three months while reporting on their lives. He fit in so well amongst the addicts after a while that he was stopped by the cops who wanted to know where he stole his camera.

As with any journalist, Eppridge faced moral dilemmas every day, particularly in deciding whether to call the police or continue photographing a man who may be dying from an overdose. In an interview with The Hunger, Eppridge recounts the moments leading up to that scene:

I was sitting in the lobby of the hotel, waiting for her to come down, and I got a phone call. It was Karen, she said, “You’d better come up here, we got a problem.”

Her dealer had overdosed. The guy could have died. It was a big dilemma; Should I call the police or should I photograph it? I asked Karen how she felt about it and she said she could bring him ’round. So I took her word for it and didn’t call 911. And she brought him around.

I constantly faced situations that bordered on illegal. It was hard having to make these kinds of decisions, but I think I made the right ones most of the time.

Bill Eppridge worked as a photographer and journalist for decades, and was perhaps best known for his photos of Robert Kennedy’s assassination, taken in the kitchen immediately following the murder. He passed away this past October at the age of 75, leaving behind a legacy of fantastic work. The entire photo essay is well worth a look. While you’ll have to pick up an old copy to read most of the story, you can view more of the images in full screen over on Life’s website by going here.


About the Author: T.J. is the Editor-in-Chief of Reviewed.com‘s camera and camcorder sites. A native of Massachusetts, T.J. hails from the Cranberry Capital of the World, which is in fact a real thing. You can keep up with all of Reviewed.com‘s photography coverage on Facebook or Twitter. This article was originally published here and was republished with permission.

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