Posts Tagged ‘Dorothea Lange’

Pioneering Women of Photojournalism

Saturday, April 3rd, 2021

CNN recently published the article ‘These are the pioneering women of photojournalism‘ a story by Kyle Almond highlighting the website Trailblazers of Light, started by award-winning photojournalist Yunghi Kim who has covered stories all over the world for Contact Press Images and is best known for her story documenting South Korean “comfort women,” sex slaves used by the Japanese military during World War II.

Trailblazers of Light now lists more than 500 women who since the late 19th century have made significant work, reporting from around the world, including in war zones and other dangerous places, breaking their way into what is still – as a 2015 study by World Press Photo, the University of Stirling and Oxford University’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism confirmed, very much a male dominated world.

The CNN article is illustrated by over 30 photographs of some of these women at work, some familiar names, and others I was not aware of, each with short notes about their careers.

I think there are at least ten of them who had got as a mention when I wrote about photography including the history of photography for a commercial web site, and some I had featured at greater length such as Dorothea Lange and Berenice Abbott. It was clear to me back then that our history of photography has been dominated by men and that there were many women whose work had been sidelined and largely forgotten, and whose work demanded greater attention.

I was also finding many contemporary features by women photographers that greatly impressed me and I could link to on the site. And on the streets where I worked it was also clear to me that although women were much outnumbered by men, their numbers among those whose work I admired were rather more equal, perhaps because women have to work harder to be recognised.

Not just Migrant Mother

Saturday, August 15th, 2020

Like me you might find it hard to name many pictures by Dorothea Lange. Of course there is ‘Migrant Mother’ and ‘White Angel Bread Line’, but what surprised me when looking through the images at the excellent on-line exhibition of her work from the Oakland Museum of California, the Dorothea Lange Digital Archive, was how many of the pictures were familiar, and how intrinsic they were to my impression of US history, not just of the depression but also through into the 40s and 50s.

The archive also told me much more about Lange’s personal history, perhaps at times a little more than I felt I needed to know – all those pictures of her deformed foot. Of course I already knew the broad outlines of her growing up, her marriages to painter Maynard Dixon and later the love affair, second marriage and long creative partnership with sociologist Paul Taylor, all of which are illuminated in text and photographs.

Of course her limp, the result of childhood polio was important to her, a part of the childhood experiences which, in as it says, instilled ‘in her empathy for “the walking wounded”—her words for people in distress.’ I imagine that it also helped to create a reciprocal empathy towards her from those she photographed.

Lange at Moma

Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

It’s worth taking a look at the essay by Rebecca Solnit published in the Paris Review:

https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2020/03/31/dorothea-langes-angel-of-history/

which comes from the book and exhibition catalogue Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures to accompany the exhibition of that name which was to have opened at MoMA in New York on April 30th. It will now open as an online show on that same date, but it’s already worth going to see the text and short video about the show.

You can also download the well-illustrated press release about the forthcoming show.

One of the few benefits of the current pandemic is that so many exhibitions like this one are now taking place on-line. It’s a bonus for us all. In normal times I would certainly not have gone to New York to see the show, but now I can view it from home. Not quite the same, but there are pluses and minuses in online presentations as opposed to an actual visit. You can certainly see the pictures with fewer distractions.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr