Dorothea Lange – Clemson Brown

From my understanding of the image that is being presented, the image makes me feel claustrophobic. The image seems to elevate this idea of feeling like you’re surrounded by those that you don’t understand or know, therefore you feel lonely within a very crowded and public area. The reason that I believe this to be the case is because of the people in the back facing away from the man facing the other direction. By not being able to see the people with faces that are not revealed, it adds to the idea that these strangers could be anyone living in the same dangerous conditions as him. There is also a very familiar pattern that gets broken once you see the men wearing the lighter hat. There seems to be this consistency of people wearing very darkened suits but then you have the one man wearing a lighter suit. 

    In the eyes of the photographer “Migrant Mother” appears to be a symbol of struggle and exhaustion in the face of difficult times. However it is also seen as a symbol of empowering the mothers who have been through sweat and tears just to take care of their children. It makes a very powerful message on what many mothers and people in poverty have to go through as people who are not as privileged. This image also conveys a very strong rule of thirds, with the mother’s dominant eye being at the center of the image. Her facial expression and eyes explain that she is not happy with the circumstances that she is in but has to go through them in order to keep her children alive. I love the fact that the kids don’t appear with their faces as it shows that anyone could have been in that exact same situation of the mother in those desperate times. You can tell that Lange wanted to express the vulnerability of the people who live in poor conditions, and the unfortunate hardships that they are forced to go through.

    I do believe that this image is more relevant to us in modern times more than ever because of the pandemic that we are going through right now. In these tough times we are experiencing aspects that are similar to The Great Depression. This photo is needed to remind people that even in the darkest of times, there is still a glimmer of hope in those who are willing to work for change. This image may have not affected the family in a way that pleased them, however I believe that the world needed to be able to see what was going on with the poor and Lange had the opportunity to shine a light for others who are ignorant to their struggles.

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1 Response to Dorothea Lange – Clemson Brown

  1. rmichals says:

    I am not sure that the image creates a feeling of claustrophobia but certainly the one man facing us appears isolated even though he is not alone. and in fact he is crowded together with other behind a fence. Maybe it is this that is creating the feeling of claustrophobia for you? The sense that all the men are confined by the fence in the foreground?

    I agree that one of the strengths of Migrant Mother is that we do not see the faces of the children. The two older ones appear to be hiding behind their mother.

    The photo however is not an example of the rule of thirds. She is squarely in the center. For the rule of thirds divide the frame into thirds horizontally and vertically. Place the main subject on one of those intersections.

    I agree that while the photo may have inaccurately presented Florence Thompson, actual money was sent the migrant camp because of the photo. If people got help, it was worth it.

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