Lange is known for her prolific photography of farmers who were displaced during the Great Depression.
“Dorothea Lange was born Dorothea Nutzhorn on May 26, 1895, in Hoboken, New Jersey. When she was 7, Dorothea contracted polio, which left her right leg and foot noticeably weakened. Later, however, she’d feel almost appreciative of the effects the illness had on her life. ‘[It] was the most important thing that happened to me, and formed me, guided me, instructed me, helped me and humiliated me,’ she said.
“Art and literature were big parts of Lange’s upbringing. Her parents were both strong advocates for her education, and exposure to creative works filled her childhood.”
Lange’s post-high school life showed her gravitating towards photography after dabbling in it through a New York City studio project. She studied at Columbia University, and apprenticed for well-known photographers, such as Arnold Genthe and Clarence Hudson White.
After a change her perspective on the world, Lange jumped into documenting the difficulties faced by the lower class through her employment under the Farm Security Administration.
(“Migrant Mother,” Lange’s most well-known piece. Source: PBS)
“Her method of work,” Taylor [her husband] later said, “was often to just saunter up to the people and look around, and then when she saw something that she wanted to photograph, to quietly take her camera, look at it, and if she saw that they objected, why, she would close it up and not take a photograph, or perhaps she would wait until… they were used to her” (Biography).
Lange was the first woman to be awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1940.