May 26 ~  Holding It Still Photography

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


Photographer Dorothea Lange (1895 -1965) was born on this day in Hoboken, New Jersey and was striken with polio at age seven. She studied at Columbia University then traveled around the world, taking photos.

"Pick a theme and work it to exhaustion," she said. "The subject must be something you truly love or truly hate."

She settled in San Francisco and soaked in the Bohemian lifestyle. With her camera, she began as an upscale portrait photographer, then transformed her work into the art of documentary during the Great Depression.

"I was following instinct, not reason," she said.

Lange captured the suffering and struggles of critical moments in history. The impoverished unemployed, rural farmers, migrant workers, men in breadlines, and the Dust Bowl women and children. Her stark photos, like the iconic Migrant Mother (1936), resonated realism and truth.

"Put your camera around your neck along with putting on your shoes, and there it is, an appendage of the body that shares your life with you."

In 1942, Lange recorded the Japanese Americans evacuated and interned at Manzanar during World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Censored for its stark, barbed-wired honesty, the riveting work is now a part of the National Archives.

More PHOTOGRAPHY Quotations

Capture (and cherish) life, one frame at a time.