Photo Essays, Spot News and Stock Photography

Posts by Mike Lander

Macon, Georgia (1931). The weary, haunting stare of a Depression era shopkeeper. DPI's homage to Dorothea Lange's Ditched,


Located within DPI’s Documentary collection is the Americana gallery on page one. This gallery contains two extensive Event collections which we want to bring to your attention. On page two in this gallery in the “1930s” event which includes many images taken during the Great Depression. There are 66 pages within this event providing hundreds of images. Likewise in this gallery located on page five is our “People” event. Here there are 99 pages displaying hundreds of images. Both events should provide numerous selections for your needs.

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Sleeping on the streets of Manhattan c.1931.


You say that it could never happen again, scenes right out of the Great Depression. I say not only could it happen again under different circumstances, but there are already disturbing signs. For it is not only the 800,000 federal workers who are working without pay, but with every passing day there is going to be a ripple effect throughout the economy that is already underway. Breadlines have formed. The air traffic controllers have basically said that flying under these conditions is at your own risk. With every passing day of the shutdown more people will be affected than simply federal workers. Food stamp allocations for March will not be paid under existing conditions. At that point I would expect to see a hunger march in front of the White House. I do not think that the Administration has fully contemplated the wide-ranging effects of this self-inflicted government shutdown. Maybe the best people, these economists, were the wrong people to be hired or maybe they just don’t care?

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Homeless men gather around a fire to keep warm.  Date is approximate; true date unknown.

“…WITH MALICE TOWARD NONE; WITH CHARITY FOR ALL;…” — Abraham Lincoln (March 4, 1865)

The quote, of course, is from Lincoln’s second inaugural address, and he was referring to the catastrophe of the Civil War and the need for reconciliation. We are using his words to introduce the theme of charities which are available to us in terms of making a donation. When I began to try and compile a list of those charities and organizations to which I have contributed I was stunned at the length of the list. As of this writing I am sure that the list is incomplete. Not only that but there are a number of worthy organizations to which I have not as yet contributed, but I hope to at a future date. My donations are small, but it is important to me to be part of the solution not simply a bystander. I sleep better at night this way.

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Walls Don't Work


Walls don’t work. You need to understand that construction of a wall in our current climate is only the first step. When the wall is breached and proved to be ineffective what is to follow? Guard towers with machine guns? Mine fields? A DMZ perhaps? Maybe a five mile wide buffer zone might work. These tactics have been tried before and do not work. The lead photo, “Walls Don’t Work“; China 1935 shows a debris field as Japanese forces breached the Great Wall.

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The Soup Kitchen


A rare image deserves special recognition. “The Soup Kitchen”; U. S. c.1931. Possibly run by the Capuchin Services Center in Detroit. Note the cross on the sign, and note the box of Campbell’s soup carried by one of the men.

Actually the warden and guards at Thomaston State Prison in Maine (1940).


Another case of art imitating life. When we first saw this image the significance for us at DPI was instantaneous. One of the most acclaimed films is “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994) starring Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne and Morgan Freeman as “Red”.  Andy was sent to this fictional Shawshank prison in Maine in 1947. The photo in this blog was also taken in Maine at the Thomaston State Prison in 1940. The image shows the warden and several guards. The warden seems to even bear an uncanny resemblance to warden Norton in the film albeit a bit taller. It does make you wonder.

Note the “Home, Sweet, Home” sign. “His judgment cometh and that right soon”. An image almost too good to be true.


No, this blog is not about some new freeway in Los Angeles. For those of you who have been wondering what has been going on at DPI here is the explanation. A life-changing event. Mine.

During the last 10 days of September and early October I had been experiencing bloating in my stomach and heart palpitations almost continuously. Finally,  I made the connection and drove myself at 3 A. M. on the morning of October 3 to the Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, N. Y. My journey led me from Admissions to Triage, to the Emergency Room, then for a CT scan, thence to the Cath Lab and eventually to the Operating Room during the afternoon of October 4. It had been determined that I needed a triple bypass operation. The surgeon told me before the operation that there was about a 1% chance that I would not survive. I told him that I believed there was a 100% chance that I would not survive very long without the surgery. At first he said that it would only be a double bypass as he was not sure if he could get to the other artery. I told him that as long as he was in there to do all three as I certainly did not want to go back in again.

Following the operation I was unconscious for two days with tubes coming out of me from just about everywhere. When I awoke I was so weak that I could not even place the straw from the cup of water at my bedside to my mouth without great difficulty. I think that I was more dead than alive. To say that the doctors and nurses at Good Samaritan saved my life would be a gross understatement. I could not have received better care than if I were the President of the United States. I left the hospital on October 10 and have been recovering at home with the love and help of my family. Recovery is slow but steady. To try and describe the event is somewhat challenging. Imagine getting hit in the chest with a baseball bat and getting spiked in the leg at the same time. The operation involves removing some veins from the leg and grafting them onto heart arteries. Sort of like Tommy John surgery but a lot more delicate and serious. Fortunately for me I had the best surgeon available to work on me just by chance.

It’s a whole new world. Believe me. Medications that I never had to take before with their side effects. Weight loss of about 17 pounds and counting. That is actually good news as I had difficulty over the years in trying to lose weight. I would not suggest that anyone go through this procedure just to lose weight, but it does work. I feel an obligation to pass along my experience. This is something that you never, ever, want to go through. Anyone who would return to a lifestyle inconsistent with maintaining a healthy heart following a bypass operation would be a fool in my opinion. After all there are more arteries connected to the heart so it’s conceivable that a second operation might be necessary. You need to think very carefully about how you live your life following open heart surgery.

Recovery is measured in weeks in the beginning and then in months with full recovery projected for about a year’s time. I was well enough to vote on Election Day. I told my family that I intended to vote even if I had to be brought in on a stretcher. It never got to that point. From my knowledge of the recovery process I would say that I am on track or slightly ahead of schedule. I think that by next week I will be driving once again.

The good news for followers of DPI is that while it has been difficult to make new postings until now, we have been able to continue to acquire some of the best photojournalism and documentary images ever presented at DPI. I hope that in some way these new images will compensate for our silence during the last six weeks.

Alabama, c.1951


Jacob Riis is considered to be one of the founders of social documentary photography. His work “How The Other Half Lives” (1890) documented living conditions in the tenements of Manhattan. He along with Lewis Hine have set a standard that is hard to duplicate. Riis’ photograph “Peddler Who Slept in the Cellar of 11 Ludlow Street” (1892) is shown below. It is one of the most famous images taken by Riis. We believe that our photo “Woman Asleep on the Floor“; Alabama c.1951 closely represents Riis’ style. We hope that he would approve.

"Peddler Who Slept in the Cellar of 11 Ludlow Street" (1892) Jacob Riis

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