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March 1, 2012

Beyond Baptism, Jim Lo Scalzo’s Baltimore Photo Reaches all the Way to Birmingham

Captured by Jim Lo Scalzo and honored with second place in the Feature category of the White House News Photographers Association awards, this photo shows members of Baltimore’s United House of Prayer For All People during a baptism ceremony.

What makes the photo so poignant and evocative, however, is that the ritual is being performed with a firehose (see the water spray just above the heads middle-left). Mindful of Bull Conner and the Birmingham civil rights demonstrations, the water hose — as many of us hold in our mind’s eye from images like this famous photo by Charles Moore — was used as a violent instrument of racial repression.

A quality that makes photojournalism so powerful is how one image can contain so many layers of meaning. As a slice of contemporary culture, Jim’s photo is awash in elegance. As its subtlety calls to history, however, the photo speaks that much more deeply to regeneration and the affirmation of faith.

PHOTOGRAPH by Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

About the Photographer

Jim Lo Scalzo

Jim Lo Scalzo spent 16 years shooting for US News & World Report, and recently joined European Pressphoto Agency. He has shot assignments in more than 60 countries, had a hanging exhibit at the 2012 Visa Pour L'Image, and written a memoir. He received a master’s degree in photojournalism from the University of Missouri, Columbia, and lives in Washington, DC. Jim teaches photojournalism at George Washington University. See more of Jim's work for BagNews here.

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