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I chose this photographer because her photos were very influential. Many people have seen Migrant Mother and its one of the greatest photos ever documented in the Great Depression. Her photos show great emotion and have an amazing impact on the events going on in the world.
Dorothea Lange was born in 1895 in Hoboken New Jersey. At age 7, she contracted polio, which made her walk with a permanent limp and then at age 12 her father abandoned her family. Dorothea views these two evens as the two most tragic events in her lifetime and helped her connect with her subjects because she understood harship and loss. Dorothea began her carreer as an apprentice to several photographers in New York City but later moved to San Francisco and to photojournalism. She began photographing homeless people and later got hired by the Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographing migrant laboreres and documenting rural poverty during the Great Depression. Dorothea Lange was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1941 for excellence in photography, which she gave up to record the evacuations of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor. The images she captured of this event were so critical that the Army impounded them. She joined with Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham and Minor White as faculty in the first fine art photography department in the California School of Fine arts. She died in 1965 at age 70 of esophogial cancer but her photos are still an icon in american history.
Audio Insight about Dorothea Lange’s work and how she connects to her subjects. Click here
Migrant Mother (1936) is one of Dorothea Lange’s most iconic images in the face of the Great Depression. The photo connects on an emotional level, the struggles that the migrant workers in that time period had to face. Click here to watch a video about how and why Dorothea Lange chose to photograph this image.
Ghost Child, 1936 Child living in a Oklahoma City shacktown. Taken for the Farm Security Agency, Dorothea Lange captures this image of a child who’s tattered clothing and lanky appearance represents the hardships of the migrant workers. The sepia tones and cardboard in the backround show the contrast in the childs pale skin.
Starting Over, 1935 A child who was resettled from Taos Junction to Bosque Farms project, New Mexico. The soft lighting and the childs body language exhibit a general weariness of the life her and her family are living.
Mended Stockings 1934. Dorothea Lange photographed a woman walking in the farmers market in San Francisco California.
Try The Train 1937
What I find interesting about this photo is the contrast and shadows. It makes the details stand out like the electrical lines and the shadows of the two men. The bilboard indicating to relax and take the train is ironic paired next to a couple of men walking on a dirt road. They obviously are effected by the depression and don’t have the money to afford a luxury such as the train. Dorothea Lange captured this image beautifully by showing some of the hardships that once successful people had to endure.
Co-Founded the photographic magazine Aperture in 1945
Inducted in the California Hall of Fame on May 28th, 2008
Gale Biography in Context
Shorpy Historic Photo Archive