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.
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?
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.
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.