Dorothea Lange made her reputation photographing the victims of the Great Depression in the US, and the exploitation of US farmers that followed. Her most famous photograph, Migrant Mother, shows the strength and torment of a migrant worker, surrounded by her three children.
I am reminded of the raw devotion to family and humanity that is expressed in Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. When times are hard, it seems, the best side of people can emerge; their stoicism, their determination to stick to their values against all the odds. Such times also expose the darkest side of capitalism, that two-headed beast that feeds us when times are good, and consumes us when they are bad.
Felice Beato is credited as being one of the founders of photojournalism, yet his approaches are as much a warning as an inspiration. He travelled much of Asia from his late twenties until near his death, and although he left Europe far behind, he took many imperialistic ideals with him.
While reporting on the Second Opium War, he took care to only photograph the Chinese war dead, and not British or French casualties. Meanwhile, in his photographs of the so-called Indian Mutiny, the desolation of the surroundings and still-present skeletons empasise the might of the British forces.
Interior of Angle of North Fort Immediately after Its Capture
21st August, 1860
Dmitri Baltermants was a Polish man who taught himself photography while working part-time. His reportage of WWII was largely censored by his Soviet employers – presumably because his photography presented the side of war that leaders would rather their people did not know about. Rather than portray the supposed glory of war, he sought to represent the suffering of battle – the soldiers’ ignoble end, the suffering of survival and widowhood. His most famous image, Grief, shows women of the village of Kerch searching for the bodies of their loved ones after a massacre.
Gelatin Silver Print – printed 1992
16 x 20 inches