In the Camps

As Dust Bowl refugees headed west across America, the lack of safe, clean camps to house migrant families became a national emergency. Lange’s photographs of people camped by the road or looking for work awoke public awareness and became powerful arguments for government assistance. Although the events she recorded were national in scale, it is the personal and human details that make Lange’s photographs so powerful. Under difficult conditions, she worked to connect on a personal level with the people she photographed. The resulting images stand as collaborations between artist and subject.

I had begun to talk to the people I photographed. . . . In the migrant camps, there were always talkers. It gave us a chance to meet on common ground—something a photographer like myself must find if he’s going to do good work. — Dorothea Lange