Dorothea's eyes : Dorothea Lange photographs the truth

by Barb Rosenstock

Other authorsGerard DuBois (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2016



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Honesdale, Pennsylvania : Calkins Creek, an imprint of Highlights, [2016]

User reviews

LibraryThing member melodyreads
beautifully done, with accompanying theme of seeing the invisible, as Dorothea herself felt invisible, due to her polio limp.
LibraryThing member nbmars
Dorothea Lange was born in 1895 in Hoboken, New Jersey. She became an American documentary photographer and photojournalist, best known for her Depression-era work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and for her pictures of the Japanese internment by the FDR Administration during WWII. Lange's photographs, still famous today, greatly influenced the development of documentary photography.

This book for kids tells the story of Dorothea Lange's childhood, and what led to her career later in life. Dorothea grew up alone with her mother after Dorothea's father left them when Dorothea was twelve. Dorothea already had experienced heartbreak in her life; she contracted polio when she was seven, and thereafter walked with a limp on her withered right leg. Kids taunted her, so she pretended to be invisible. She was lonely though, and passed the time by observing the details of everything that was around her.

By the time Dorothea was 18, she knew she wanted to be a photographer, and studied under photographers by doing whatever jobs they would give her. Eventually she was able to start her own portrait studio in San Francisco. She began to win wide acclaim for her skill at photography, and soon, all the richest families in California wanted portraits by her.

But Dorothea felt she should do more; she wanted to use her eyes and her heart. By this time the Great Depression had started, and what Dorothea saw all around her were people who were sad and lost. She well understood how they felt: invisible and ashamed. She took photo after photo, going out on the road to document what the effects of the Depression.

As the author reports:

“For five years, in twenty-two states, Dorothea drags through fields, climbs on cars, and crouches in the dirt to photograph people the world can’t see. The jobless. The hungry. The homeless.”

Because of Dorothea, and the style she developed, called “documentary photography” - the country saw what she saw, and her photographs helped convince the government to provide people with work, food, and safe, clean homes.

“Dorothea’s eyes,” the author concludes, “help us see with our hearts.”

In an Afterword, the author provides more background on this important artist, observing that her image “Migrant Mother” is “one of the most famous, most reproduced photographs in history.” There is also a selected bibliography, a detailed timeline, and information on where to see Lange’s pictures online.

Although most of the book is illustrated in a striking mixed-media way by Gérard DuBois, to my delight the author also includes some reproductions of some of Lange’s most famous photographs.
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