Dorothea Lange – Migrant Mother

Day 157 of Colourisation Project – October 11

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

Migrant Mother, one of the most recognized and arresting images that photography has ever produced is today’s subject for colorization. Created by the pioneering documentary photographer, Dorothea Lange, this iconic image came to represent the suffering of America’s Great Depression especially with reference to the plight of the poor and forgotten, the sharecroppers, displaced farm families, and migrant workers.

Born in in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1895, Lange has been hailed as America’s greatest documentary photographer. Best known for her chronicles of the Great Depression and for her photographs of migratory farm workers commissioned by the Farm Security Administration (FSA) in 1935, her stirring, sometimes haunting images humanized the pernicious impact of the Great Depression and unequivocally influenced the development of documentary photography.

Photographer: Dorothea Lange – Migrant Mother 1936 – Coloured by Loredana Crupi

In 1939 she published a collection of her photographs in the book, An American Exodus: A Record of Human Erosion.  Her visual interpretation of the human condition, now universally recognized symbols of the Great Depression, earned her a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1940 for excellence in photography, making her the first woman to achieve this award.

After the Depression Lange enjoyed an illustrious career in photo-journalism working for leading magazines such as Fortune and Life, and traveling widely throughout Asia, Latin America and Egypt. In 1942 she recorded the mass evacuation of Japanese-Americans to detention camps after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. Post World War II, she created a number of photo-essays, including Mormon Villages and The Irish Countryman, for Life magazine. In 1952 she co-founded the photographic magazine, Aperture, a leading quarterly publication devoted to fine art photography, which still continues to be published today.

Lange died of esophageal cancer on this day, October 11, 1965 in San Francisco, California at age 70, leaving behind a legacy as one of the world’s most influential documentary photographers and a significant body of work that continues to inspire generations of photographers.


“I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean-to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it.”  Dorothea Lange [on Migrant Mother]



This entry was posted in Black & White, Colorization, Colourisation, History, Mother & Child, Photography, USA and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Dorothea Lange – Migrant Mother

  1. Pingback: Consuelo Kanaga | Random Phoughts

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