Chim: David Seymour's Humanist Photography
National Gallery of Art, home page
Image: David Seymour (Chim), Scraping Up Flour at a Looted Depot, Port Said, 1956, gelatin silver print David Seymour (Chim)
Scraping Up Flour at a Looted Depot, Port Said, 1956
gelatin silver print
National Gallery of Art, Gift of Ben Shneiderman
© David Seymour Estate/Magnum Photos

Port Said

Scraping Up Flour at a Looted Depot, Port Said

Chim's striking image depicts a boy whose face, centered and bathed in sunlight, has become covered in flour while he hurriedly scoops up every last grain from a looted depot. The photograph powerfully conveys the animalistic condition of the city's population in the aftermath of the conflict.

In his memoir, Ben Bradlee described how he and Chim had witnessed the scramble for flour among the starving in Port Said: "We watched trucks unload sacks of flour into crowds that hadn't eaten in three days. I can still see Schim [sic], a wisp of a man, standing on the jeep silhouetted against the darkling sky quietly photographing mob scenes of Egyptians ripping sacks of flour apart." Bradlee's description of people coated in flour echoes Chim's photograph: "Black-haired and dark-skinned men and women were powdered a ghostly white as they swept the streets for a last fistful."