Artist
Dorothea Lange
American photojournalist

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Dorothea Lange
American photojournalist

Birth Date

1895

Contributor

Think of Dorothea Lange as the Frank Sinatra of photography. And both grew up in Hoboken, NJ.

At an early age, Lange contracted polio, which affected her leg. Her permanent limp embarrassed her. The kids in her neighborhood called her “Limpy." Kids are cruel. Lange later said her disability helped her relate to the people she photographed, especially the displaced farm workers living in poverty. So joke's on them.

Of course, Lange became a successful portrait photographer in San Francisco. Then the Great Depression shut her down. Struggling financially, she developed genuine empathy for the destitute all around her. Respectfully, even hesitantly, she started photographing her environment. A digital camera would have come in handy, but instead she had an extremely cumbersome 8x10 view camera. Eventually, the Farm Security Administration hired her to photograph the lives of the migrant farm workers in California, Arizona, and New Mexico. She spent months on the road alone. In the summer of 1936, she drove 17,000 miles! Leaving her five young children at home, she placed them with other families so she could work and travel. Her kids did not appreciate it, but photography lovers do.

Later in life, Lange and her second husband Paul documented poverty and exploitation among Southern sharecroppers and tenant farmers forced to leave their homes and travel West. Check out their photographs in the book An American Exodus. Continuing her civic-minded work, Lange documented the unjust confinement of Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II. Her images were so confrontational to the situation, the government seized her negatives. In some ways, things never change.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange (May 26, 1895 – October 11, 1965) was an American documentary photographer and photojournalist, best known for her Depression-era work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA). Lange's photographs humanized the consequences of the Great Depression and influenced the development of documentary photography.

Early life

Dorothea Margaretta Nutzhorn was born on May 26, 1895, at 1041 Bloomfield Street, Hoboken, New Jersey to second-generation German immigrants Heinrich Nutzhorn and Johanna Lange. She had a younger brother, Martin. She dropped her middle name and assumed her mother's maiden name after her father abandoned the family when she was 12 years old, one of two traumatic incidents early in her life. The other was her contraction of polio at age seven, which left her with a weakened right leg and a permanent limp. "It formed me, guided me, instructed me, helped me and humiliated me," Lange once said of her altered gait. "I've never gotten over it, and I am aware of the force and power of it."

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Dorothea Lange.