Click to preview Scrappers photo book

Scrappers, a documentary in photographs with more than 50 stark and unsettling black and white images from Dayton, Ohio, offers answers. It’s about the rise of urban armies of the poor devoted to a new economic boom in scrap metal.
Scrap is among America’s top exports in an age of downward mobility, deep industrial decline, unchecked globalization and political drift. This book is a vision of what we are becoming as a nation and a glimpse of a grim future we still have a chance to avoid.
92 pages.


About the Author

SteveBennish Dayton, Ohio
Reporter, documentary photographer.

Comments (2)


SteveBennish says

One of America’s dirtiest jobs is in large part done by jobless people.
They’re called “scrappers,” and Dayton Daily News reporter Steve Bennish has done a photojournalism book about them. They’re the ones who dig around abandoned factories, dive into dumpsters, and roam alleys looking for discarded scrap metal to sell to recyclers by the pound. Soda cans, old bicycles, disused car radiators — the sources are fairly endless, not all of them legal. Mr. Bennish estimates a full day of gathering earns them up to $60.
Mr. Bennish began working on the book in 2011, while researching a series of stories about the loss of American manufacturing jobs. Metal theft is a huge problem in places like Dayton. Last year, thieves did $100,000 in damage to a local flood gate when they cut off a 700-pound metal shaft used to operate the mechanism. A retired Dayton police officer quoted in the book says: “Some do it for survival, some for drugs, and some just for greed.”
Mr. Bennish focused on those doing it for survival. He says he made a point of producing the pictures using Kodak film, a product of a then-struggling American company, and a Chinese-made Holga 120N camera. “In ‘Scrappers,’ you see the burgeoning scrapper economy and the spreading poverty that drives it through the lens of a Chinese-manufactured camera,” wrote Mr. Bennish in an email.
- Timothy Aeppel, Wall Street Journal's Real Time Economics Blog

posted at 07:47am Sep 08 PST


SteveBennish says

Latest reviews of Scrappers:

"A powerful presentation by Steve Bennish, a terrific reporter at the Dayton Daily News."
- Eddie Roth, director of operations at city of St. Louis, Missouri

"A century ago, Dayton was the Silicon Valley of its age, and its decline is both astonishing and tells a broader story of what has happened to America. It's a fine work, both arresting and heartbreaking."
- Jon Talton, economics columnist, The Seattle Times. Blogger at Rogue Columnist. Author, "The Night Detectives."

"My friend and colleague Steve Bennish just published his first documentary project on homeless scrappers in Ohio. A fascinating set of images that highlight a previously untold vignette of the new economy and desperate times for some.
Steve shot the entire book using simple plastic Holga cameras. Awesome Steve!"
- Larry C. Price, veteran daily newspaper photographer
"Scary, powerful and sad. We have NO industrial policy and the elite wonks are afraid of one. How does a nation of our size/wealth stay that way?
Not by exporting jobs and raw materials. Value added is mandatory, unless we want to turn into Russia. The politicos are afraid of a trade war. Well, we're in one now. Screw the other guy's feelings. Our people need jobs."
- Ivan Stoler, American businessman and manufacturer

"An illuminating look at the decline of the American manufacturing belt and how desperate citizens are cannibalizing their future just to feed their families."
- Marty Steffens, Society of American Business Editors and Writers endowed chair, University of Missouri-Columbia

"Welcome ladies and gentlemen, to Ground Zero of what’s been done to our country in the name of hyper-globalization and unbridled free trade. Scrappers is to be shared with every business colleague, boss, friend, and acquaintance you know. For the record, I don’t ‘know’ Steve directly. But he is one of the many acquaintances I’ve come to know through social media. I can attest to his passion and support for manufacturing. I’ve known of him for longer than that though, since I became familiar with his work while living in Southwest Ohio. We’ve been connected through Twitter for some time, and I highly recommend that you do too (his Twitter handle is @OhioJobsWatch).
But nothing prepared me for the stark, raw imagery that ‘Scrappers’ brings to the manufacturing debate. I don’t care if you live in the rust belt & close to this disgrace, or if you don’t – what you and everyone should see is in the eyes of these people. I can’t stop thinking about them...
It is a sobering, disgusting, gut-wrenching thing to see – the photographic documentation of the rendering of our middle-class manufacturing base to scavengers. It’s not easy to look at. And you should buy this book.
But don’t buy it because you want to support Steve – surely, it’s a brilliant book, and he deserves the support for having done it – but to share it with anyone and everyone that’ll listen to the truth about what we’ve allowed to happen."
- A.J. Sweatt, management consultant, A.J. Sweatt Logic and Communications, Atlanta, Georgia.

posted at 07:46am Sep 08 PST

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