Who knows? The Shadow knows. I believe that the shadows in this photo make it happen. Something to keep in mind when you’re shooting. Try to make effective use of the lighting. Without these shadows would this photo still be as effective? “The High Chair“; U. S. c.1937.
You think we have it rough now? Let’s take a look back for a moment. A World War, the Spanish flu which killed 675,000 people in our country that was only 40% of today’s population, discrimination, poll taxes, literacy tests, Jim Crow, the second coming of the Ku Klux Klan and the Great Depression. That’s about as rough as it gets, and it is clear from these photos “Birmingham, Alabama (1932)“. Research indicates that this was Aunt Harriet’s house. The destruction of the fireplace is evident by the pile of bricks seen in the first and third photos. Perhaps they were to be re-used elsewhere, so this scene in the second photo predates the first and third photos. Anyone want to trade places?
This photo would be typical of those taken from the Farm Security Administration’s collection in the Library of Congress in our opinion. But it does not come from their collection. She belongs to DPI. Moreover, I would argue that this style is similar to that of Russell Lee, one of the great FSA photographers from the 1930s. For us to add this image to our collection was a no-brainer.
“Amish Woman With A Washtub“; Pennsylvania (May 15, 1937).
In the midst of the Great Depression this woman prizes her two dogs. She seems economically untouched by the despair in the land. I think that many of us have seen some people take better care of their pets than their children. Lucky dogs!
Things could be worse as it was for this Texas farm family during the Great Depression. We feel extremely fortunate to be able to bring this photo to you as we pay homage to the work of the great Farm Security Administration photographers of the period such as Dorothea Lange. For us at DPI this was a no brainer.
For me the connection was instantaneous. I guess it was the brick wall. Jacob Riis documented the plight of the poor and their living conditions in New York City at the turn of the 20th century. Required reading is his work How the Other Half Lives (1890). A good number of his photographs contain brick walls. We hope that he would approve of this presentation, “The Empty Box“; West Virginia c.1931.
As if you still need to be informed. In monetary wealth perhaps but not in spirit. We present two different scenes taken in 1937 in the midst of the Great Depression. Above is “1935 Ford 3 Window Coupe“; U. S. (September 8,1937). A young couple share a moment on a quiet Sunday. Note the rumble seat.
With all eyes focused on the current humanitarian crisis on our southern border let us not forget that U. S. citizens were once also migrants living in squalor in relocation camps during the Great Depression. The power of the still photograph is clearly evident and on display with the recent, tragic photo of the migrant Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his daughter Valeria who drowned in the Rio Grande at Matamoros while seeking asylum in the United States. I think that it is fair to say that that image will clearly be in the running for the next Pulitizer Prize.
We have many environmental portraits of women included in our People collection. Shown here are three recent arrivals. It should be remembered that for a number of these images women did not as yet have the right to even vote in the United States. Our lead photo is “Lady In A Snowstorm“; Michigan c,1974. When you have to go out for milk and bread nothing, not even a snowstorm can stop this woman.
It is unfortunate that John Vachon’s name does not immediately come to mind in the discussion of the Farm Security Administrations’s photographers during the 1930’s. Dorothea Lange is perhaps the best known, but others such as Walker Evans, Russell Lee, Arthur Rothstein and John Vachon seems to fall into a second tier. This is unfortunate. Vachon’s work was unique compared to some of the other FSA photographers, and it is for that reason that his photographs made a strong impression on me. Some of his photographs were taken during a rain storm. His image of diagonally parked cars in “Omaha, Nebraska 1938” shown below inspired me to try and in some way to duplicate his style. I would like to think that “Alexandria, Indiana 1955” would meet Vachon’s approval.