The photograph, “Gun 1,” was taken by William Klein on the streets of New York City. William Klein was born into an impoverished Jewish household. William’s Jewish and poverty stricken background led him to photograph anarchic and raw moments on the streets of New York City. Living in the impoverished parts of NYC, William was exposed to gangs, anti-institutionalists, and liberals, allowing him, in his later life, to seek out the shockingly brutal truth. “Gun 1” was taken in 1954 a few years after the Korean War. The two kids in the photograph represent the current American political picture. The kid, embodied with anger and toughness, is America pointing its gun. The timid and curious kid is like the countries watching to see if America will strike. It beautifully embodies the emotions of the outside world into one, black and white, photograph.
William Klein grew up during the Great Depression. Klein had to witness his father’s clothing store go out of business during the crash. Firsthand, Klein saw unemployed adults juxtaposed with kids taking odd jobs to feed their family. “Gun 1,” in a smaller context, represents the power kids have. The Depression left many parents powerless and it matured kids with prepubescent independence. These were the days when the children ruled the street. The kid on the left exemplifies the evil in the streets. Kids in gangs were exposed to guns, drugs, and theft. While the kid on the right, personifies the good in the streets. The young kid has his arm on the other as if he wanted him to stop. It shows that there is a good and bad to the power kids have.
In conclusion, on a national and international scale, this photograph powerfully and precisely encapsulates American society and William’s childhood. William Klein’s keen eye for raw moments on the street of NYC and his ability to photograph the purest emotion, set this picture apart from the rest. Capturing a kid, the purest of humans, holding a gun, a deadly manmade technology, breaks so many boundaries. Photographs like “Gun 1” continue to validate the importance of photography and the puissance of a moment in time.