“Dorothea Lange was one of the best of the American photographers who used their art to document, and ultimately to alleviate, the human suffering caused by the Great Depression of the 1930s. As she viewed it, photography was not an end in itself, but a means of exploring the world so as to improve it. ” Dorothea Lange captured the hard times of one of these families during the struggle of the Great Depression in her photograph Migrant Mother.
The photograph shows a family in poverty, but it also shows the determination of a mother to do her best to care for her children and to keep fighting through the difficult times. The title of the photograph depicts the woman as a migrant worker. The photograph was taken in 1936 during the time when many migrant farm workers suffered through the disaster of the Dust Bowl. The photograph is in black and white but there is a colored version as well. The black and white version shows so much more emotion.Order now
There is so much more focus on shadow and light instead of the distraction of all the different colors. The light source seems to be coming from in front of the mother. Her face is the lightest which makes her the first thing we see when looking at this image. The family’s clothing helps show their level of income during this time. The mother wears a gray shirt with torn off sleeves. The baby lies wrapped in a blanket that seems to be very dirty. The clothing on the other children appears to be dirty as well. It also appears to be too big for the children.
The mother and children do not seem to have showered for a while; the dirt around the baby’s mouth and the dirt on the children’s hands support this greatly. The setting behind the family also shows their poverty level. They are migrants so they probably didn’t have a house of their own and appear to be living in a tent. “I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions.
I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean-to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it,” described Lange in a 1960 interview.
The mother in Lange’s photograph is responsible for the survival of her children. The composition of the children in the photograph shows the mother’s importance very easily. The mother is at the center of the photograph symbolizing she is the center of her family. Two of the children are resting against their mother while she is supporting the weight of them. The mother rests her infant gently in her lap. She is looking straight ahead as if she is saying she will not give up on her children or herself. This photograph became one of the most famous icons of all time.
Later was selected as the picture to symbolize the concern of the government for displaced farmers (Rosenblum. ) Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother photograph may seem to be a dreary picture because it shows a poor family that is struggling to survive, but the photograph also shows a mother’s determination to make it through difficult times and to provide for her family the best that she can during such a difficult time. Photographs like this help support the fact that a picture can be worth a thousand words as well as evoke a thousand different emotions all at once.
“Dorothea Lange’s ‘Migrant Mother’ Photographs in the Farm Security Administration Collection: An Overview.” Prints and Photographs Reading Room. Prints and Photographs Division, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2014. .
“Exploring Contexts: Migrant Mother.” American Women. American Women, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2014. .
“Dorothea Lange.” Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2004. Encyclopedia.com.