Dorathea Lange – Politics Of Seeing – Barbican

I attended with fellow OCA Photography student Sarah A, which was invaluable. To walk around and share thoughts, ideas and opinions with another photographer, to be able to walk slowly and really see the photos was invaluable.

  • Dorathea was a highly respected and sought after portrait photographer before being commissioned by FSA
  • FSA motivation was to highlight how America was recovering during/after great depression
  • Her early work for FSA demonstrates she was a portrait photographer
  • Her portraits at this stage were technically wonderful but have a feeling of no emotional connection with her subjects
  • When she began to work with her future husband her work becomes more social/documentary in nature, she begins to make photos that matter
  • This highlights that she was very uncomfortable with portraying the America the FSA wanted to show, which was propagander and not reality
  • This is backed up by her passing copyright to FSA, she wasn’t interested in retaining her photographic rights
  • When she begins to make photography about racism in the US the quality of her work is stunning. This is clearly something which matters to her
  • Many of her photographs have a lot of grain.
  • I have grown up with computers from the age of 9 and have rarely made film photos, and when I have this has been as a complete novice
  • I over develop and use software to remove all traces of grain. This isn’t necessary
  • Some of her photos are slightly out of focus, they are really pleasing to my eye. Do I really need to delete everything that’s not technically perfect? I think this is about intent pre-shoot
  • Black and white photography is wonderful for showing texture. Having been anti black and white then my perspective has altered from attending this exhibition

13 Replies to “Dorathea Lange – Politics Of Seeing – Barbican”

  1. I’m so glad to hear you have changed your mind about black and white photography. It can enhance pictures in such a different way. My introduction to photography was with black and white. My dad made our very own dark room when I was very young, and taught me how to take and develop pictures, some of my very best memories:)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s quite interesting. I’ve only used a film camera, many years ago, when I shot in auto and had no idea what I was doing. One day I would like to explore it a little

        Like

      2. Smart phones tend to wash things out if the background is too bright and contrasty. But you can’t adjust the f-stop unless you have a pretty fancy (and expensive) digital camera – which then destroys one of the main reasons people use digital – that it is cheaper.
        I worked in photo labs, took classes on film chemistry, assisted photographers, shot my own stuff, worked in motion pictures, the whole lot.
        I like grain. It is like a mosaic of reality. Digital photographers pretend they don’t have to deal with grain. They don’t. It is called pixels, instead.
        Playing with light and recording it in a beautiful fashion is worth doing regardless. Explore it all.
        But my personal favorite is film, and especially B&W.

        Liked by 2 people

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