Lange’s Special Eye
“Centerville, California. This evacuee stands by her baggage as she waits for the evacuation bus. Evacuees of Japanese ancestry will be housed in war relocation authority centers for the duration.” Photographer: Dorothea Lange. Date: May 9, 1942. Local ID: 210-G-C241(NAID 537588)
The courageous and charismatic character of Dorthea Lange is one of the many strengths that propelled her successful photography career. Throughout the film, Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning, Lange’s passion for capturing true emotion was definitely acknowledged as the motivation that drove her. In order to gain a better understanding of Lange, it is important to recognize her intentions as well as her beliefs. The film explained her often reliance on the Francis Bacon quote, “the contemplation of thing as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention” ( Francis Bacon) Lange often relied on this quote as a reinforcement of ideas within her quality of work. More specifically, she believed that she could successfully achieve this accurate depiction solely through pictures and photography.
The picture above includes a woman, of Centerville California, managing her current state of terror in being forced to leave her house and involuntarily live in a designated location. At first glance, a major sense of fear can be seen within the woman’s eyes. Personally, this explains the severity of the situation in its entirety. More specifically, Lange captured several images and faces throughout this devastating time period that did not completely interpret the true emotion. For example, two pictures that I analyzed involved two young men smiling while embracing each other and another young man who was also smiling. After watching the documentary, and later doing outside research on these horrifying events, it would be expected that these evacuees would be extremely upset; definitely not smiling into a camera. The motivation behind the photography works of Lange put extreme emphasis on capturing true emotion while it accurately depicts the historical and situational context. Within the picture above, the level of transparency in the severity of the situation as well as in the woman’s demeanor was effectively carried out.