Photographers: Dorthea Lange (United States, 1895-1965)

Figure 1.-- Lange's photography put faces to the Depression. She took photographs of the men women and children whose lives were affected by the Depression. Those of the mothers and children are probably the most enduring images of the Depression. Here we see a migratory boy in a squatter camp. His family has come to Yakima Valley for the third year to pick hops. His mother told Lange, "You'd be surprised what that boy can pick." We do not know the boy's name or the future he made for himself after the Drpression.

Dorothea Lange is certainly one of America's greatest documentary photographers. Along with Mathew Brady and Lewis Hein, we would put her at the pinacle of American photo journalism. The three worked at different times. As a young woman she planned to be a teacher, one of the few professions available to women. She attended the New York Training School for Teachers (1914-17). While there she changed her mind and decided to become a photographer. Photographer Arnold Genthe influenced her. She signed up for a photography course taught by Clarence H. White at Columbia University. Lange moved to San Francisco (1918). She she set up a portrait studio (1919) and it proved sucessful. One of here best known works during this period is the Clayburgh Children. Although sucessful, she began to see studio photograpjy somewhat boring (late-1920s). She began experimenting with landscape and plant photography, but the results were not what she was after. After the Stock Market crash (1929). Lange decided to begin working with documentary pgotography. Lange is the most famous of the photographers that worked to document the impact of the Depression on ordinary Americans. She captured renounded images of rural America, including share cropers and migrant farm workers, affected by a kille combination of the Drepression and Dust Bowl. 9 She was one of the photographers that worked with President Roosevelt's New Deal, specifically the U.S. Farm Security Administration (FSA). She took mny photogeaphs of the Oakies espcaping the Dust Bowl and migrating west to California. They survived under dreadful conditions in camps set up there. Her photogeaphs appeared in mass circulation magazines like Life and today are the images of the Great Depression that contine to form our concept of that economic disaster. Her images vividly depict the impact of the Depression, but unfortunately not what caused it. Lange later worked for the War Relocation Authority (WRA). She is particularly know for her photographs of the Japanese Americans intened during World War II.


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Created: 5:18 AM 4/26/2015
Last updated: 5:18 AM 4/26/2015