Monday, September 15, 2008

Assignment: Analyzation of Photographer

Photographer: Dorothea Lange
Birth: 1895-1965 Hoboken, New Jersey
Type of Photography: Documentary
Interesting Information: A quote from Dorothea Lange that sums up her work:
“The good photography is not the object, the consequences of the photograph are the objects. So that no one would say, ‘how did you do it, where did you find it,’ but they would say that such things could be.”
Image chosen: “Migrant Mother” Nipoma, California 1936

Analyzing the photograph:
I first saw this photograph when I was flipping through a book; immediately my eye was drawn to the women’s face. Her face expressed emotions of suffering, concern, and courage. Courage penetrated from the mother’s eyes that were determined to look beyond the present condition and hope toward the future. Concern from the way her forehead was drawn upward into wrinkles. Suffering that was not only represented in the face, by the shape of her lips, but repeated itself throughout the composition. One’s eye cannot help but be drawn toward the woman’s face. The way the mother holds her hand on her face reminds the viewer that her hand not only gives support not only to her head, but provides the support of an income to live. (The conclusion was drawn from prior knowledge of the context of the photograph.)
The image as a whole is strong because of the photographer’s use of contrast, grayscale, lines, balance, and texture. The mother’s dark hair contrasts with the light hair of the two boys which makes her face; in addition to the way the light hits the mother’s face makes it appears a lot whiter, creating a strong difference of light and dark, while the boys hair blends in with the same range of values that is in their clothing. Texture and tonal range of the hair and clothing play an important role of emphasizing their present state. One can see the raggy edge of the clothing on the sleeves because of the way the light hits the mother from the left side of the photograph. That light creates the boy’s clothing on the left to appear lighter then the boy on the right. The contrast and brightness of the photograph makes it one with the background because of the range of tones used, even though the background is unfocused. Though the background is unfocused it makes the woman’s and boy’s shirts appear crisp and precise next to each other, creating it to stand out.
The fact that the image is in black and white makes it very powerful; coloring would have taken away the strong focus from the mother’s face, even though most lines in the photograph point toward the mother. The boy’s shoulder points down to the mother’s elbow forcing one’s eye to be drawn up to the mother’s face. Furthermore, the head of the boy on the left is tilted and his neck is drawn upward towards the mother’s face. The same applies to the boy on the right. His shoulder points down toward the mother’s arm. As well the photograph is split into spaces, which are defined by the arms, created a symmetrical balance. The mother is framed in the middle with a boy on either side. There is a symmetry to the image: while the boy on the right appears larger it balances with the boy on the left because the boy looks like he is dressed in lighter colored clothing than the boy on the right, creating a sense of balance; the boy on the left is evenly balanced with the boy on the right because the white comes forward and the dark steps back. The different tonal range creates it to be unified along with the boy’s bodies mingled into the mother’s body creating organic shapes. The organic shapes contrast with the geometric shapes of the rectangular forearm and circular shape of the face.
Overall the image is strong even with only partial background showing because the focus is on the mother. The composition tells a story by itself; one does not need to put a, “Pea-Pickers Camp” sign in the setting to notify the viewer as to the type of labor they do. By titling the image with a literal description, the viewer would be cheated of the experience.

1 comment:

Brittney Harmon said...

The first time I saw this photograph was in National Geographic. It's one of my favorites of all time!