Posts Tagged ‘greatdepression’

How the US Govt Accidentally Created the Golden Age of American Photography

“Corn Along a River” Marion Post Wolcott, 1940. Library of Congress.

My overview of American government goes generally like this: (1) Something happens. (2) The government passes some laws in response to it, adds on a few pork projects, and raises taxes to pay for the laws and the pork. (3) The laws (or pork) cause an entirely new problem. (4) Repeat.

The usual outcome of this cycle is that every year we have more laws and higher taxes. But every so often, some accidental side effect occurs and something awesomely good happens. So it was during the alphabet-soup days of New Deal government during the Great Depression. The accidental side effect was the Golden Age of American Photography. How it happened is rather interesting.
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Iconic Photo Exposed: Migrant Mother

For every iconic photograph that’s out there, there was likely a number of other photographs taken at the same time that many people probably have never seen. One such photo is Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange — an image that became one of the defining photos of the Great Depression. The woman in the photo, Florence Owens Thompson, had been travelling with her family when their car’s timing chain snapped. After setting up a temporary camp to wait while her husband and two sons went to town for repairs, Dorothea Lange drove up and spent 10 minutes capturing 6 photos.
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