White Angel Bread Line, by Dorothea Lange, San Fransisco. 1933, the moment I saw this photo I felt time paused there, depression and sadness. The first character in the photograph that I believe is the main in it is the old man with his hat and his cup. The opposite direction that the man is standing on other than the people on the background, gives a sense of different matters for each the old man and people behind him, even when both are waiting for the same reason (food relief). The old man’s half impressions which is hidden under his hat makes the photograph more mystery since we cant see his full face. Even when the photograph was taken in the 20th century, the black and white plays a big rule in the photograph because it gives the photo the meaning of both sides, and the white light on the hat and the cup focused on the old man.
Migrant Mother by Dorothea lange 1936. I see the mother’s eyes looking away distracted thinking, or something else going in her mind. I see her skinny face, body that look older than her age. At the same time, I see a mother who is standing still, strong for her kids. Then, I see two kids leaning on their mother, who is their only support in life. Their dirty and ragged clothes describe the situation they all going through. Not last, the hidden baby in his mother’s arms protected from the hardship. This photograph looks like a family photo as a memory. Fill the frame, makes the photo focus on the characters only. while their face features, bodies, and clothes describe the most of the situation they are going through.
The four characters in the photo, who are different from the size and location on the photo, give the meaning the rule of the mother in her family and in our society. The mother suffers to support her children. Her children come first in everything. It’s okay if she works in many jobs all day just to feed her kids. It’s okay if she doesn’t eat, or get rest. Children come first. This is what Florence Owens went through, but this is not what she wanted, it is just life that she had to go through to survive with her family. I believe the over all of the story was worth it because if no one documented these kind of hardships that people and families go through in the country no one would ever know about her story or other stories on that time. I also believe that without these kind photographs other people would ever believe such stories without evidence, and that photograph was an evidence of what poor people going through.
You make several good points about the White Angel Bread Line Photos. That the camera looks down on the main figure, hiding his face with his hat brim, does make it more mysterious as you say. It also makes it less about this man as an individual and more about all the men like him without jobs and food. And his lighter hat does bring attention to him.
In the Migrant Mother photo, Dorothea Lange did fill the frame with Florence Thompson and her children. And it is effective to focus our attention on them. I think the success of the photo is that we can see both the mother’s strength and how hard her situation is.
I agree with you that it is worth violating one person’s privacy to tell the story of how many people are suffering. Tough if you are that person though.