Born May 26, 1895. in Hoboken, N.J., Dorothea Lange was an important documentary photographer during the Great Depression. Lange studied photography at Columbia University but is best known for her portrait work of migrant workers in southern California. Hired by the Farm Security Administration (FSA) under President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal program, Lange documented the desperate conditions of those suffering from the tragedies of the Great Depression. Her iconic images brought the misfortunes of the rural poor to the public’s attention.
Her work is considered both portraiture and documentary due to its emotion-invoking nature. Her best-known image, “Migrant Mother, Nipoma, California, 1936,” is a perfect example of this combination. Lange was able to bring out emotion in her images, in a way that did not always exist in photography. Sadly, Lange passed away in 1965, but her work will forever be remembered for its impact on society as well as the visual arts.