Thursday, June 2, 2011

Plantation Overseer and His Field Hands

Dorothea Lange born in 1895 started her photography career at 17 years of age. She worked in studios doing odd jobs while learning photography. She owned her own studio in San Francisco and it was there that she was discovered and offered the job for which her work is most famous.
Lange began working for the Farm Security Administration in 1935, a new program under Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal Administration. This work took her across America to farming communities. During this time, she captured some of the most well known pictures of the Great Depression. Her contribution to photography was her foresight to capture what was real in a time in U.S. History that was not glamorous. Her photographs add humanity to the equation of economics.

During World War II, Lange worked on another U.S. Government project, the War Relocation Authority. On this assignment, she was to photograph the Japanese people who were forced in to internment camps.
The work of Dorothea Lange’s that I like most is that of The Great Depression and her pictures of the South that raise racial questions. I have chosen to post this picture called “Plantation Overseer and His Field Hands” with subtitle of “Mississippi Delta” 1936. I think this is a great photograph; I like the lighting and the shiny car. I like the way the “Overseer’s” shirt is so pristinely white. Is that the Overseer’s car? He looks quite comfortable there. I wonder, is it a coincidence that the African Americans are so thin and the Overseer so rotund? In the seventy years or so since African Americans were emancipated, what was the relationship here? Clearly, they are not captive, but clearly, they are not privy to the same comforts as others.

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