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

Where’s Wally???

It’s been a mixed day for me, partly because of my hangover and partly because Richard only took two photos of me.


To be honest I slept through this morning. Richard met his friend Sarah from Foundations in Photography, and they went to the Barbican to see an exhibition:- Dorothea Lange – Politics of Seeing. I slept in his rucksack. However, Richard and Sarah had a wonderful time, and not only did he enjoy Sarah’s company, he felt he learned a lot from how she viewed some of the images. Think he will blog about it, but I can’t say when though.

It was mid-afternoon when they left the gallery, and Richard and I went for a walk and saw the famous Boris Bike’s. I used to like the guy, now I know he’s a Wally. Couldn’t spot him though.


This morning on the way to the Barbican Richard messed up a bit. He wanted to go to Spitalfields Market. He had no idea about there being an old and new market. He got off the bus at the New Spitalfields Market which is in the middle of nowhere. He had a quick look around before getting an Uber to the Barbican. What a fruit loop.


We took a walk to the Old Spitalfields Market via Liverpool Street (first photo of me at the top of the page) this afternoon. Modernisation can be a bit of a let down at times, and sadly this was one of those. Although he did make one average photo. Maybe earlier in the day would have been more lively?


After the disappointment we took a walk down Brick Lane, and oh my god what a bright, vibrant, colourful, energetic and multicultural place. Love love love Brick Lane. This is the Britain I love. Britain is made up of people at the end of the day, and Brick Lane is people, people, people. Unfortunately Richard didn’t take any photos there, he was flagging a bit by then, so we stopped at Starbucks, (I’ve stuck to the water today) and then got the tube back. I’m having a rest now.


Richard and I are both loving London. Let’s see how he feels in three weeks time. I’m aware he can be impulsive, and he’s already having thoughts about moving here. I’ll get him to pause and chat things through with N and K, he listens to them. They can help him think things through and make a decision, either way, with consideration, time and reflection, rather than acting upon impulse

Off to sleep now. Good night.