ericamay photography blog: thought studio.

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#44: My photography hero August 13, 2008

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” — Dorothea Lange

A few months ago, Jeff and I visited the Nelson-Atkins and checked out their photography exhibit. It is fantastic, for anyone in the Kansas City area. I’m pretty sure I had chills the whole time. Anyway, while we were there, I saw a print of Dorothea Lange’s famous portrait, Migrant Mother, from 1936 (pictured below). Since then, her images of the Great Depression have been seared in my mind.

So I’ve researched Dorothea’s life (1895-1965). What an amazing woman, who chose to spend her life bringing awareness to the plight of migrant workers, poor families and destitute farmers during the Great Depression. Her images are chilling and moving and capture life. The tough life — with its scars, pains, worries and hardships. Dorothea Lange was commissioned by the FSA to capture images of life during this time — and capture it, she did. Some of her subjects are now the face of the entire period in American history.

One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you’d be stricken blind.” — Dorothea Lange

The photographs of Dorothea Lange are so revealing of human nature and the spirit of people that you can’t help but feel it. Really feel it. Looking at her images online is stirring enough, but seeing those black and white prints in person is amazing. I am really looking forward to diving into some biographies about her life, her work and the pivotal times in which she photographed human life.

I didn’t want to post her work here without having permission, so PLEASE check some out on your own. You will be glad you did. For an online resource with a sample of Lange’s remarkable work, check out this feature on The History Place. The site contains all of the original captions for her photos as they appeared in print.

While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.” — Dorothea Lange


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