In 8th Grade my best friend's mom, Anne Whiston Spirn, a landscape architect, photographer and writer, took Sam and I to the Philadelphia Museum Of Art to see a Dorothea Lange exhibition. I remember staring at Migrant Mother for a long long time. It was looking at this image that I first realized a photograph could have content, it could speak about the world and tell a story. It was at this moment that I truly fell in love with photography. That afternoon changed many things for me. Anne's favorite photographer is Dorothea Lange and through this love and enthusiasm Anne showed me a wonderful new world. Now almost 15 years later I am reminded of our bond as I eagerly await the release of Anne's new bookDaring To Look. This book will provide a wonderful new insight into Lange's work and the book description alone gives me goosebumps:
"Near the end of her career, Dorothea Lange lamented, 'No country has ever closely scrutinized itself visually. . . . I know what we could make of it if people only thought we could dare look at ourselves.' Lange, however, did look, unflinchingly turning her lens on the despair, degradation, and greed unleashed by the Great Depression, and her photographs for the New Deal’s Farm Security Administration have become the defining images of that time, capturing a country and a people on the brink of cataclysmic change.
But the iconic images we all know don’t come close to telling the whole story. Lange viewed her photographs as part of sequenced narratives, contextualized and enriched by her descriptive captions—without which, she wrote, 'half the value of fieldwork is lost.' Daring to Look presents never-before-published photos and captions from Lange’s fieldwork in California, the Pacific Northwest, and North Carolina during 1939. Lange’s images of squatter camps, benighted farmers, and stark landscapes are stunning, and her captions—which range from simple explanations of settings to historical notes and biographical sketches—add unexpected depth, bringing her subjects and their struggles unforgettably to life, often in their own words.
When Lange was dismissed from the Farm Security Administration at the end of 1939, these photos and field notes were consigned to archives, where they languished, rarely seen. With Daring to Look, Anne Whiston Spirn not only returns them to the public eye, but sets them in the context of Lange’s pioneering life, work, and struggle for critical recognition—firmly placing Lange in her rightful position at the forefront of American photography."
I have been thinking a lot about women and photography lately with all the recent focus/exhibitions/lectures on the two. These are two women I deeply admire and respect and without them in my life I don't know where I would be. I thank you Anne. This is the first of a series of thoughts and ideas about women and gender in photography, so don't change that channel folks...