Dorothea Lange's Photographic Theory and Style: Apparent in Migrant Mother and the Rest Analytical Essay by Beng

Dorothea Lange's Photographic Theory and Style: Apparent in Migrant Mother and the Rest
An analytical paper that examines the theory and style of photographer Dorothea Lange.
# 148771 | 1,277 words | 4 sources | MLA | 2007 | PH
Published on Nov 05, 2011 in Art (Photography) , Art (General)

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This paper is an analytical piece on the photographer Dorothea Lange. She is known for her genuine photographs of the new industrial revolution. The writer explains the pictures and the images that portray life during the Great Depression. The focus of the paper is to examine various themes in her three most prominent photographs, copies of which are appended to the paper: (1) Migrant Mother; (2) The White Angel Breadline; and (3) Japanese Boy Awaiting Evacuation. The conclusion argues that these pictures revolve around the philosophy that photography is one factual sequence that reveals an extraordinary detail out of the most ordinary incidents.

From the Paper:

"Lange's photographic theory and style reveals one that is ordinary, yet at the same time, extraordinary. This is seen in many of her photographs, such as her most moving picture scene taken in Nipomo, California--the Migrant Mother. As shown in the appendix portion on page 5, a mother is shown sitting upright with a sleeping child in her arms, and two children leaning on her, as she sat in a ragged tent at a peapicker camp in March 1936 (Library Congress Prints & Photographs Division 1). The picture depicted grief and difficulty during the Great Depression, with parts of the bodies (e.g., arms, nose and mouth) forming angular lines that denote directness or plainness (of reality). The rough texture of the four bodies contradicts with the smoothness of the tent in the background. Arms, heads, and necks that are bent mean weakness and misery. When looking at the V-shaped arm of the mother, the eye flows from the elbow to the hand to the mouth, which appears as if the mother is grief-stricken because she does not have food to feed her children. The sleeping child looks as if he or she is on the verge of dying. When it comes to tone and mood, however, the somber expression and the blank background denote inconsistency and frailty of life. Still, the picture appears to be balanced, smooth and proportional, despite the varying lengths of lines, the different textures, and the various ages and heights that are portrayed in the picture. With the lines creating a smooth and constructive flow among the figures, the picture is like a scene in itself, capturing the heart of the observer and creating a story in one full motion that makes the observer understand what is exactly going on."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Library Congress Prints & Photographs Division, The. "Exploring Contexts: Migrant Mother." N.d. American Memory: American Women.20 May 2007 <>
  • Abbey, Susannah. "Artist Hero: Dorothea Lange." 2007. 21 May 2007 <>.
  • "Depression of the 1930s." Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier, Incorporated, 1997.
  • Kreisel, Martha. American Women Photographers: A Selected and Annotated Bibliography. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

Dorothea Lange's Photographic Theory and Style: Apparent in Migrant Mother and the Rest (2011, November 05) Retrieved March 02, 2024, from

MLA Format

"Dorothea Lange's Photographic Theory and Style: Apparent in Migrant Mother and the Rest" 05 November 2011. Web. 02 March. 2024. <>