Dorthea Lange Essay

1278 words - 5 pages

Born on May 26th 1895 in New Jersey, Dorothea Lange had a rough childhood. Contracting polio before the age of eight, she walked with a limp for most of her life. Instead of studying and working on an education, Lange spent most of her time wandering the streets on New York. Finding pictures along these walks and collecting her favorites is thought to have sparked her interest in photography. She called this "acting like a photographer observer". It was during these walks that she realized the beauty of the unknowing person. She continued her walks until perfecting her "cloak of invisibility", which is watching without appearing to.While studying to become a teacher, by her parent's request, Lange worked both being a secretary and occasionally restoring photographs at the local photography Due to an unhappy employee quitting before a job appointment, Lange was sent to replace him. From then on she held her position as a studio photographer. Lange soon began to work for herself with commissioned works with only two years of formal instruction with Clarence White under her belt.Before marrying her first husband, a painter named Maynard Dixon, Dorothea Lange packed up and moved across the country to San Francisco, California, and opened her very own portrait studio. She birthed her first son at the age of thirty, and her second just three years later. These years were more focused on raising her boys and being a housewife than furthering her career.Sparking her best early work, the depression of 1929 lured Lange out of her studio and into the streets. It was here Lange photographed the poor and homeless. During this period she photographed one of her most popular works, "White Breadline Angel".In 1934, just months after her first show in the gallery of Oakland, Lange was offered a job to continue the path of her work of photographing the less fortunate people of the depression by the department of Resettlement Administration. Enduring not only the change from studio to documentary photography due to the depression, Dorothea's first marriage began to break up. By 1935 she was divorced from her first husband. However, working with the young Dr. Paul Taylor occasionally, produced a relationship that resulted in marriage soon after her split up.During her trips with the R.A. (Resettlement Administration), which varied from days to months, Lange's most popular work was taken. These trips allowed her to photograph urban slums, homeless shelters, and migrant workers such as cotton pickers.Another photograph during these trips turned out to be the most famous work in Lange's portfolio, named "Migrant Mother".At the end of a trip in 1936 Lange "approached the desperate mother ask[ing] no questions [about] her name or history... She was 32." Lange was quoted saying "There was a sort of equality about it... I knew I had recorded the essence of my assignment." Lange had a way of capturing the soul of her subjects in a single expression. The disparity and worry...

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