• Jo

Dorothea Lange and her Migrant Mother

Updated: Dec 12, 2020

Dorothea Lange was one of America's greatest documentary photographers. In 1936 She created one of the world's most enduring images of the 20th century, “Migrant Mother" - a portrait of Florence Owens Thompson, taken during the Great Depression. The Mother looks pensive, staring wistfully into the distance whilst two of her children hide their faces from the camera and although facing destitution her facial expression and body language still show a strength within.

In 1960, Lange spoke about her experience taking the photograph:

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.

Born May 26 1895 in New Jersey USA, Lange's photographs influenced the development of documentary photography.

To find out more about Lange click on the link below and read this great article about 5 of Lange's most iconic photographs.


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