Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Dorothea Lange took this photo of a migrant father and his three children.  I've always been puzzled by this picture for two reasons.  First, his hair and beard were not anywhere near the usual 1930s style.  They seem to have the same amount of growth, indicating that he may have shaved his head and his beard at the same time.  Lice control measure?  Second, I initially thought the two girls were shy and hiding their faces, but Lange's notes indicated that they were asleep.  If so, it was an odd position.



  1. What is puzzling to me is a comparison with her more famous "Migrant Mother" photo. They are incredibly similar, leading me to suspect there was a significant amount of posing for one or both.

    1. Yes, they are incredibly similar. Was Lange trying to do a gender counterpoint to the better known one? I think we might be naive to think that posing wasn't ever done in the work of Lange and similar photographers. The photo above hit me as modern, or at least much later than 1936, for several reasons, but I did multiple searches and every one found a Lange Depression era attribution. One source was even a news service photo archive.

    2. Oh, I agree. Documentary photographers have a job to do and I suspect they often need to 'help' the cause with some careful posing. The fact that the two pictures are just so similar made me suspect someone was just trying to update and copy Lange's photo, but like you, all of my searches point to both photos being made by her in the 1930's. Makes me wonder why she did that...