Thanks to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at Kidlit Frenzy,
An added bonus: please be sure to read the comments. Some have posted other interesting links!
When I taught, one of my goals for my students was to learn there are many ways in our world to communicate stories. And I wanted them to try those ways, to find their own "voice" whether it was in words, song/sound, or varied areas of the visual.
I want you to imagine using this book with students, to ask them to find something they can photograph that might persuade someone to change their thinking about that something. There are so many ways to make a difference, and Dorothea Lange used photography.
Dorothea’s Eyes: Dorothea Lange Photographs The Truth - Barb Rosenstock and Gérard DuBois
I know the photographs of Dorothea Lange, but until now I didn’t know her story. Born to love seeing what others might miss, early on she loves faces. At seven, she contracts polio, ending with a limp and a brace. She learns that others make fun of it, learns to be still and hide unnoticed, but at the same time, she watches. Through tough money times, her father leaves and Dorothea must go with her mother and wait long hours while her mother works. She is a new girl and often skips school to peer into tenements of immigrants, as the story goes, “watchful” and “curious”. DuBois’s illustrations follow the text with muted browntone scenes of Dorothea’s story. She tells her family she’s going to be a photographer, and they are stunned. “It. . .It isn’t ladylike” But she persists and her first work is only to answer phones and mount photographs. She learns about cameras, she studies the negatives, and again knows that she loves faces. Through happenstance she ends up in California, makes a name for her work by taking photo portraits of rich families. But she’s missing something, asks: “Am I using my eyes and my heart?”
This is now the time of the Great Depression and one day Dorothea notices a bread line, a lone man with a battered cup, the one for begging. She takes photos, and her friends don’t understand. The book reads: “No one takes photos of poor people.” She persists and travels, despite the leg pain and the fatigue. She won’t let people forget, and the media publishes those pictures. Just as I know the pictures, I bet you do, too. She is known to have started the idea of documentary photography, was influential in several captures of important parts of our history.
from Dorothea: “I know how to keep an expression. . .that would draw no attention, so no one would look at me. I have used that my whole life in photography. . . . I can turn it on or off. If I don’t want anyone to see me I can make the kind of face so eyes go off me . . .
I was never obviously there.”
Barb Rosenstock offers additional important back matter, a partial bibliography, books for further reading, some of Dorothea's famous photographs and a timeline.
|Dorothea's first look at the bread lines, and that man with the cup.|