They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but trying to imitate the work of Dorothea Lange would be the equivalent of trying to copy da Vinci’s Mona Lisa! Not that it shouldn’t be done, it can’t be done!
All things being equal I believe that most photographers choose to take well focused images. However, there are certain situations where a soft focused image works much better. In the creative world of advertising, motion in a photograph created by blurring or panning adds a new element into an otherwise static, two dimensional image. This practice is also used in sports photography to great effect. But what about photojournalism and documentary photography?
Research on this photo leads us to the following assessment. This man is a migrant fruit picker in a camp in Washington State c. 1935. Known as ‘fruit tramps” these men traveled to Washington State to pick mainly apples most likely near Yakima. Such was life for many men during the Great Depression. Clearly the time of day was beer o’clock (Aussie slang).
The quotation may be recognized from the film “The International” (2009). Actually it dates to c. 1678 set down by the French fabulist Jean de la Fontaine in Fables. We believe that it illustrates our photo “Depression Farmer“; U. S. c. 1934 in ways that cannot be described otherwise.
Inspired by the iconic image, “Migrant Mother”, taken by Dorothea Lange in Nipomo, California (1936), we present “Log Cabin Mother“; Appalachia c.1918. Whenever we make a humble attempt to compare any of our images to those taken by master photojournalists from the past, we do so with the intent to keep their spirits alive for all of us and as an homage to their contribution to documentary photography. See the back story on Florence Owens Thompson (Migrant Mother).
“The Water Wagon” on a Kansas farm (1936). An iconic image from the Great Depression. The right subject taken at the precise moment in history with the photographer’s keen eye, a good camera and excellent lighting. Proof that you don’t have to be a professional photographer to produce excellent photos.
Sometimes we see a photo that looks like a painting. So it is with “A Game of Checkers“, North Carolina c.1936. All of the elements in the composition and the lighting call to mind paintings by Norman Rockwell.
A rare, iconic image from the Great Depression, “Unemployed Men“, never before published. We assess with a high degree of probability that this photo was taken in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania c.1937.
Political and economic decisions made during the 1920s led to the Great Depression. While much has been documented about New Deal programs to lessen the suffering during the Dust Bowl period, less has been posted on this blog about the period from the stock market crash until the inauguration of Franklin Roosevelt. Until now!
Oklahomans or Okies? I use the term Okie in this essay without any pejorative meaning whatsoever. It is used by me to honor the people of Oklahoma who have suffered so much yet retain a strong commitment to religion, political conservatism and moral values.