Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures

Dorothea Lange. Plantation Overseer and his Field Hands, Mississippi Delta. 1936 232

Gelatin silver print, 7 1/2 × 9 1/2" (19 × 24.1 cm). Gift of the Farm Security Administration

Filmmaker, Dyanna Taylor: Here we find ourselves in June 1936, with a plantation overseer and his field hands, in the Mississippi Delta. The overseer proud and full of himself, hand on knee, foot on bumper. What we can see in the photograph is my grandfather standing on the far left edge of the frame, distracting the overseer, so that Dorothea can actually see the men behind him, as they gaze directly at the camera.

My grandfather, Paul Taylor, was a field economist and Dorothea and he worked together as a team on the reports that they did for the government.

My grandfather often would interview subjects in this way so that Dorothea could photograph them without their paying much attention to her. They used her photographs to illuminate what they were really seeing on the ground, and it made a great difference in how the government received the information that they were given.

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