The 1929 crisis urged the photographer to change her focus to the street. Black Thursday was the beginning of a world economic depression which led to a significant increase in unemployment; this is what Dorothea photographed in the street, with a firm goal: to increase awareness about the surrounding poverty. In 1935 she was noticed by the Resettlement Administration (Relocation Office), launched by Franklin Roosevelt’s government, she was then called some time afterwards by the Farm Security Administration (FSA).
"One should really use a camera as though tomorrow you’d be stricken blind." Dorothea Lange
At age twenty, Lange started to travel, selling photographs along the way to help finance her journey. When her money ran out, Lange found herselfinSan Francisco, California, where she settled and opened her own portrait studio in 1916. On March 21, 1920, she and the painter Maynard Dixon were married. She spent the 1920’s in San Francisco, working as a society photographer. She and Dixon became known within San Francisco’s bohemian circles.
In 1902, Lange suffered poliomyelitis, an ailment for which there was not yet a vaccine. As a result, Lange had limited mobility in her right leg, particularly from the knee down. This condition caused her to walk with a limp, and she was teased throughout childhood. In her own accounts, Lange described the experience of illness and subsequent paralysis as being formative in her life.
Lange’s Californian Migrant Mother is one of the most widely known of all photographs; the tightly composed, highly concentrated composition has made it an icon of socially committed photography.
Dorothea Lange worked for the American government’s Farm Security Administration programme during the Great Depression of the 1930's. The F.S.A. was set up to relieve poverty in rural areas but also involved photographing conditions faced by displaced farmers who had been hit by the Depression and by drought.
Lange worked in the photography studios of Arnold Genthe and Charles H. Davis and attended Clarence H. White's photography class at Columbia University before moving to San Francisco, where she established a portrait studio in 1919. In 1920 she married Maynard Dixon, a painter. They were divorced in 1935.
Born of second generation German immigrants on May 26, 1895, in Hoboken, New Jersey, Dorothea Lange was named Dorothea Margaretta Nutzhorn at birth.
Dorothea Lange is amongst the pre-eminent photographers of the 20th century. Whilst her career was varied, she is best known for her harrowing images of Depression era California.
Lange told the human story of this period, through images that continue to resonate as symbols of harship and tragedy today.
Dorothea Lange was an American photographer best known for her Depression-era photographs for the Farm Security Administration. Lange's images helped humanize the tragedy of the Great Depression.