Posted on November 15, 2017
Yesterday’s article caused a lot of self-searching. The day ended with a shopping spree on Amazon, where I purchased a book by Nan Golding, a photographer who also took photos on the fringes of society. Today, I am playing it a little safe and telling the tale of Dorothea Lange and the Migrant Woman. It is a tale often told with a happy(ish) ending and stands as a lesson for Street and Journalistic photographers. Spoiler – by the time I finished the article I found out more than I wanted to.
Lange worked as a photojournalist for the American government’s Farm Security Administration. Her photos would help shape policy and create working documents; these documents soon stood as pieces of art. Lange gained her position with the FSA through her photography of the homeless and unemployed, visiting soup kitchens during the American Great Depression. As a child, Lange contracted polio and walked with a limp, citing the disease as something that, “instructed me, helped me and humiliated me.” Perhaps it was her non-threatening stance, caused by the disease, which led to the migrant worker dropping her defences and allowing her photo to be taken. Maybe the migrant women could read that Lange was there to help. Alternatively, the lady was just too tired as she had been feeding her family on frozen vegetables plucked from the soil, and wild birds caught by her hungry children.