Video: The story behind Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother
Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother is easily one of the most important images ever captured, and although the story behind the image has been told plenty of times before, we really enjoyed this take on the story by T. Hopper.
Lange took the photo in Nipomo, California in 1936. At the time, the Federal Resettlement Administration (Farm Security Administration) had hired Lange to document rural poverty and the plight of migrant laborers in the west.
The image portrays Florence Owens Thompson with her children. Lange took five images of the family, with Lange's assistant later removing Thompson's thumb in the editing suite as Lange said she found it distracting.
Within days, the photo was published in papers across the country, becoming an instant classic of American photography.
Thompson was finally found in the late 1970s living in a trailer park near Modesto, California, by a local newspaper journalist who persuaded her to give him an interview. When asked about her life, Thompson said: "We just existed - we survived, let's put it that way."
Today, the 28.3 cm by 21.8 cm gelatin print is housed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, but in May last year a rare print originally part of Dorothea Lange’s family collection sold at auction for $31,000 USD ($46,000 AUD).
You can read more about the history and significance of the shot here.