The Easel

6th February 2024

Her brilliant photos of the Depression made history. Did they twist it?

Lange’s 1936 photo of a mother and her children, Migrant Worker, is perhaps the defining image of the Depression. Does it matter that the woman’s story didn’t fit Lange’s Depression narrative? She had trained in commercial portraiture where she learned the importance of lighting and telling details like hand gestures. Her Depression-era work went beyond portraiture into photojournalism. meaning she wanted images to tell a particular story. Inevitably, when trying to tell the national story, “facts drift over time”.