Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dorothea Lange: "Altering Life"

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.
- Dorothea Lange

It's great to hear the photographer who made (what most people consider) the most famous "documentary" photo ever speak of photography "altering life." I love it. It makes me feel better for using Lange as a prime example in my MFA Thesis entitled "What's so Documentary About Photography?"



Is getting a good photo all that matters? Florence Thompson died ashamed that her face was used in that photo. There are other stories that Lange didn't tell her sitters what their image would be used for.

Steve Stenzel

I don't think she "died ashamed." Her daughter (not Florence herself) said she was embarrassed because they didn't want people to know they were poor. She added "But we are proud of the story behind the picture." I don't think anyone was ashamed or upset at Lange.

My point in the OP was just that photographers should just "stumble" upon photos - even "documentary" photographers. I don't believe it's possible to make a truly unbiased, non-objective documentary photo. I loved this quote because she speaks of "altering" life, not documenting it.

Steve Stenzel

Oops... I meant to say "SHOULDN'T just stumble upon photos." Everyone (no matter how "documentary" they are trying to be) will create their "take" on the story with their photo.

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