Discovering a Purpose: Early Documentary Work

From the window of her portrait studio, Dorothea Lange observed the aimless, jobless men that haunted San Francisco during the Great Depression. One day, on impulse, she grabbed her camera and headed for the streets. The photographs she took that day captured something new and politically charged. Overnight and almost by accident, Lange had discovered a purpose and found her documentary voice.

Five years earlier I would have thought it enough to take a picture of a man, no more. But now, I wanted to take a picture of a man as he stood in his world. . . — Dorothea Lange