Inspiration: Dorothea Lange

“One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you’d be stricken blind. To live the visual life is an enormous undertaking, practically unattainable. I have only touched it, just touched it.”

Dorothea Lange


We all have our inspirations; whether they be artists, writers, photographers, spiritual leaders or just people in our lives that show us who we’d like to be in the world, or who we’d like to be artistically.  Dorothea Lange is one of mine.   At a time when women just barely won the right to vote, Dorothea Lange had a career as a commercial portrait photographer in San Francisco in the 1920’s.  When the depression hit in the 30s, she took her camera to the streets and started documenting the breadlines, strikes and hardships of the San Francisco residents which lead to her most important work with the Farm Security Administration; collaborating with her second husband, Paul S. Taylor she documented the mass exodus of American farm families making her images some of the most recognized symbols of the Great Depression. During WWII she documented the forced relocation of Japanese Americans to internment camps.  Her collection of photo negatives totals over 25,000.

As a photographer, I can’t help thinking about her story. About the drive it took to follow your courage and convictions across the country.  About her relationship with Paul Taylor and how dynamic it must have been to have accomplished so much together.  To me she embodies a spirit so rarely seen today and one of the most important women of the 20th century.  She inspires me to not only be a better photographer, but to be a better person.

source: Dorothea Lange Fellowship