Daring to Look

The latest issue of The Digital Journalist as always contains much of interest. One item that particularly struck me was a review by by J B Colson of the book by Anne Whiston Spirn, “Daring to Look,” which takes a new look at the work of Dorothea Lange and appears to give a much more detailed insight into how she actually worked.  She concentrates her attention on the projects Lange undertook in 1939.

The link at the bottom of the page leads to a good selection of Lange’s work, mainly from the collection of the Library of Congress.  You can of course go and see more there;  a Creator serach on Dorothea Lange returns over 4000 records, and most appear to have digitised images. So here is one you almost certainly haven’t seen before!

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division LC-USF34-009747-E
Wife and sick child of tubercular itinerant, stranded in New Mexico, Dorothea Lange, 1936 Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division,

There is a special feature on the variants of her ‘Migrant Mother‘ picture and if you would like your own print to hang on your wall you can download a 55Mb Tiff file made from the original nitrate negative (55 Mb may well take some time to download.)  A 30Mb TIFF made from a print is also available, but shows considedrable damage to the print.

You can also read the story of this picture from another point of view. According to the grandson of Florence (Owens) Thompson, the woman in the picture, a well-dressed woman jumped out of a smart newish car and started taking pictures, getting closer with each shot. Florence decide to ignore her.

After taking the pictures, Lange is said to have told Florence who she was and that she was working for the Farm Security Administration and to have promised that the pictures would not be published. Next day they made the front page of all the newspapers.

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