A 32-Year-Old Mother Of 7 Sells Her Children In California, 1936 'Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange' (Colorized)
Lange Turned Documentary Photography Into Iconic Art
For those who never experienced the Great Depression it can feel like a fairy tale told to remind us to appreciate the things we have. Thanks to photographer Dorothea Lange we have the ability to see exactly what it was like to live through the Depression, and the ways in which it really ground down the American people.
Lange's photos don't just show the dire straits that the people most heavily affected by the Depression were in; her photos show the despair and pain that came with trying to feed a family with nothing, and begging for scraps from people who were in the same economic free fall.
One of Lange's most well-known photos shows a woman in her 30s, Florence Owens Thompson, and her seven children as she attempted to navigate her large family through one of the lowest moments in American history.
Born in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1895, Dorothea Lange can of age on the Lower East Side in Manhattan where she contacted polio at the age of seven. Left with a permanent limp, Lange decided that she would be a photographer even though she'd yet to come in contact with a camera. After studying photography at Columbia University she moved to San Francisco where she opened a small photo studio where she took portraits for members of the west coast's social elite.
When the Great Depression hit, Lange took her camera into the fields and streets. She snapped shots of the homeless and people waiting in bread lines before she was hired by the federal Resettlement Administration (later known as the Farm Security Administration) where she documented poverty across California and the midwest, specifically photographing sharecroppers and migrant workers to show the ways in which they were exploited.