Dorothea Lange



This sequence of 6 photographs should exemplify the process a photographer goes through to come out with such a dynamite image, that is, the image on the bottom right, entitled "Migrant Mother"(California, 1936).(To see a larger version of it, please click on the image). It is evident that from the first to the last image, Lange had moved in closer, and created an emphasis on the mother. Even (by the final image) hiding the faces of the two children who cower on her shoulders. In fact, we see that the family may have been as big as seven total--there are six figures in the second image (top center), and the father, who Lange photographed later, is absent from all of these images. Lange has manipulated her subjects, to imply that a poor mother with two children (an average amount) will be capable to lead her family(doesn't her face express it?) out of their state of suffering, into the more prosperous future, if she is given the chance.

Stryker said of this image:

		When Dorothea took that picture, that was the ultimate.
		She never surpassed it.  To me it was the picture
		of Farm Security.
		She has all the suffering of mankind in her, but all
		the perserverance too.  A restraint and a strange courage.

I do not know what type of camera Lange used here; like Evans, she uses sharp focus, but both Lange and Evans were technical experts anyway. I think it is more important, as far as comparing her photographs to Evans', to recognize the "future-orientation" of "Migrant Mother"--and how she had to shoot a sequence before getting what she wanted. (I do not, in any way, mean to degrade Lange's ability as a photographer; I do, however, mean to show the subjective nature of this image, as opposed to Evans' objective style.) Also, it is worthy to note how much Stryker emphasises that this image serves as the paradigm of the entire FSA collection.


The Migrant Mother Sequence
1 2 3
4 5 6
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