Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures

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Dorothea Lange. Six Tenant Farmers without Farms, Hardeman County, Texas. 1937

Gelatin silver print, printed 1965, 12 15/16 × 16 5/8" (32.9 × 42.2 cm). Purchase

Filmmaker, Dyanna Taylor: It's hard enough to take a good portrait of one person. To get six men who are in a state of distress, who are without work, who are struggling to make a living, presenting themselves to you, is a real accomplishment.

This image, taken in 1937, is called Six Tenant Farmers without Farms, Hardeman County, Texas.

Dorothea must have approached them to ask if she could take their portrait, but she always did this in such a delicate way. Dorothea gained the trust of her subjects by letting them get to know her a little bit before she produced the camera. She sometimes allowed them to ask questions, about why she was there–how many children did she have? Why was she interested in photographing them? And I think they all felt less threatened, and she was able to make them feel more comfortable.