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Reflections on Dorothea Lange's 'Migrant Mother' Photograph

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In this photo I see a poor woman holding and feeding her baby. They seem to be most probably refugees which need help. Moreover, they seem to a certain degree as if they have lost their hopes. The mother in this photo looks young. She might even be a teenager still which makes her life even harder. She needs to face the obstacles of life at a very early age.

One of the strongest effects that this image has on the viewers is that they can feel the emotions of these refugees just by looking at this photograph. The viewer can put himself into the hard situation that those people are and feel compassionate about it. In my opinion the message of this photograph is deeper than it might seem when we look at it at the first time. It may seem simple, but what it gives us as a message is that people need to learn to help others or to feel at least to some degree compassionate and not to ignore the problems of others.

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Dorothea Lange’s way of showing poverty is similar to the approach of Katherine Boo. What we learned in class from Katherine Boo’s article ‘Writing About Poverty in the USA’ was that poverty can be shown in different ways. And she tried to show us poverty through writing the stories of ordinary people whereas Dorothea Lange represents poverty though images and photography. And, these two approaches indeed try to tell the viewers and readers the same things. They try to make us look at problems more deeply.

The way that this photograph shows its emotions is because the atmosphere is sad. The expression on the mother’s face is sad and dark. What is symbolic in this photo is the colors of it. It is white and black. The place and the conditions of the people there. It is all sign of sadness and desperation. “Any collection of images of Depression in the United States is sure to include some photographs by Dorothea Lange. One of America’s most celebrated photographers, best known for her intensely humanizing portrayals of an economically and agriculturally ravaged country (Linssen 14)”. Lange often photographed refugees and migrant mother as a way to express the difficulties of these people and the poverty which they need to go through. According to her article: ‘A life Beyond Limits’ Linda Gordon says that for her, Dorothea Lange is a photographer of democracy. She emphasizes on the point that one of the reasons which make Lange’s photography so valuable and significant is that we can see from her photographs the struggles of people at the economic bottom and feel their pain and understand their hard life. The writer James Curtis believes and explains that the power of Dorothea Lange’s work comes from her own personal experience, values and the need to communicate and understand those people. He also adds that Lange was constantly concerned about the critical stage of the documentary process which were public recognition and acceptance.

However, in conclusion, the work of Dorothea Lange is successful and she manages to make the viewers feel the emotion of each of her photographs and by looking at it they see the story that it tries to tell.

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Reflections on Dorothea Lange’s ‘Migrant Mother’ Photograph. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 29, 2023, from
“Reflections on Dorothea Lange’s ‘Migrant Mother’ Photograph.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022,
Reflections on Dorothea Lange’s ‘Migrant Mother’ Photograph. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 May 2023].
Reflections on Dorothea Lange’s ‘Migrant Mother’ Photograph [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 01 [cited 2023 May 29]. Available from:
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