Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange and Paul Taylor describe documentary photography in this way “to let the subjects, the living participants of a social reality, speak to you face to face. Having looked at a documentary book, you could no longer be ignorant of them. You had seen their faces.”

I believe this is absolutely true. The photographs revealed the devastation and hardship of the migrant worker’s life. Due to the published photographs of this event, the plight of the migrant worker now had a face.

Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother Series: http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/list/128_migm.html

This is a great article on Dorothea Lange’s famous Migrant Mother photographs. This article with accompanying photos really shows how difficult and harsh life was for migrant workers. Florence Owens Thompson is the mother featured in this series, which was created in February or March of 1936 in Nipomo, California. Dorothea Lange explains in detail:

I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean- to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it. (Popular Photography, Feb. 1960).

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