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Women in Photography: Dorothea Lange

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we are taking a look back at important women throughout photography. Explore the lasting effects these important women had on the style and development of the photography industry as we know it today! Dorothea Lange No other photographer captured the struggles, emotions, and consequences of the great depression era…

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we are taking a look back at important women throughout photography. Explore the lasting effects these important women had on the style and development of the photography industry as we know it today!

Dorothea Lange

No other photographer captured the struggles, emotions, and consequences of the great depression era than Dorothea Lange. Her portraits of unemployed farmers, labourers, and drifting workers proved to be some of the most historically resonant ever taken, and her work has greatly influenced modern photojournalism and the evolution of documentary photography.

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“Her work has greatly influenced modern photojournalism and the evolution of documentary photography”
(Image by ReinierVanOorsouw)

After being approached by the FSA (Farm Security Administration), Lange began producing some of her most iconic work, documenting the struggles of migrant workers, share-croppers, and poverty in the rural United States. Throughout the 1930’s, Lange worked with several different relief organisations, traveling extensively across the western United States.

Lange’s stark images soon became icons of the depression era, and remain imprinted in the social construct of America. In 1936 she produced her most well-known image, the portrait of a weather-beaten woman, two young children clinging to her inside of a shabby lean-to. The image, simply titled ‘Migrant Mother’ has become a symbol of the depression, and when published in 1936, gave a face to the plight of her nation. Directly as a result of her work, aid was quickly rushed out into the deprived areas surrounding Los Angeles, but Lange was quick to dismiss her role in preventing starvation.

 32409214860_1f1d7b8779_o“Lange’s stark images soon became icons of the depression era”
(Image by Paul Hoogeveen Photography )

Her success and fame came at a time where more women were working independently, establishing businesses and dominating the arts and literary careers. She herself opened a successful portrait studio by 1919 and continued to be heavily involved in several business ventures throughout her life. By the end of the war in 1945, Lange was approached to teach photography at The San Francisco Art Institute, where she remained a faculty member well into the 1950’s.


In 1952 she co-founded the successful photography magazine Aperture, which is still in print today. Despite being in poor health toward the end of her life, Lange continued to collaborate with many other photographers of the age.

Dorothea Lange died in 1965 aged 70, leaving a legacy behind that will likely never fade. Her work symbolised the era’s in which it was taken, and it continues to resonate in in popular culture today.  A number of photographic and artistic awards have been created in her honour, and in 2003 she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’ve curated a custom collection of women across the world.
Experience our collection here

Find more profiles of influential photographers and filmmakers in our Lobster Blog

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