Photos We’re Moved By: Migrant Mother

Posted on July 15, 2011 by


migrant mother

Migrant Mother By Dorothea Lange

This is a photo of a 32-year-old Florence Owens Thompson and her seven children in 1936. Thompson was a migrant worker in the California fields during the great depression. Look at her children’s hair. The cuts. The color of her skin coming through the black and white photo. And those eyes. There’s so much more to do. These children are going to want food. Where are we going to get it all.

Lange spoke about the experience:

I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean- to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it. (From: Popular Photography, Feb. 1960).

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