March 2, 2006

OBE 2 migrant mother

I thought that it was very interesting to learn a little more of the story behind the famous “Migrant Mother� picture. What it got when I first saw this photo was that this was a woman who could not feed her children, had no home besides maybe some makeshift box, and did not know what to do about it. She looks like she needs help. And this photo makes me want to help her. But in this picture she also looks like she is a hard worker. She looks worn down and tired from laboring her entire life and still not being able to make ends meet. I wonder if Dorothea Lange also published the little blurb about this poor mother needing to sell the tires off of her car just to have enough money to buy food. It makes her sound to helpless and almost pathetic. She looks like she needs help from someone and without it she will never be able to make things better for herself. But this is what you are supposed to get from it. The whole point was to evoke emotions of sympathy from the reader. At the time the picture was first published there was a shift in society towards wanting to help these people that are down on their luck and just need a little boost to get back on track. While reading this article we find some of this to be true. She works and still does not have enough money to buy food for her seven children and the home that she lives in could definitely be better. But one big misconception that was corrected for me is that this woman is not helpless and she is not left wondering what to do. She does need help, but she isn’t waiting around for anyone to come and hand it over to her either. This woman, Florence Owens Thompson, is already an active participant in the fight for not only her own future she is trying to help other migrant workers and farm laborers all around her. This woman, that looks so helpless and desperate for someone to come and help her find food and shelter for herself and her children, is actually a very strong woman.

OBE 1 photojournalism

It seems very wrong to me that photographers would set up a scene and then claim that it naturally occurred. I don’t so much have a problem with the idea of posing or directing a photo, but if you choose to do this then you cannot claim that this scene just fell upon you and you snapped a quick photo. Whenever you see photos in magazines or newspapers it is not just the picture without any words describing it. If a photographer wanted to stage a scene that they had seen in real life, they could just print this explanation below or next to the photo. At least then they are not a liar. Then you can still take away the understanding that this is something that is really happening, it just didn’t happen naturally for this one photo. I don’t think that is such a bad thing. But to say that you are a photojournalist, taking documentary photos when they are not natural at all does not seem right to me. I think that a directed or posed photo can still evoke a lot of emotion and get across whatever point you may be looking for, but if people find out that you lied about how the photo can to be, it takes away a lot of the meaning. I also think that it is odd that there were photographers that thought that directing was not the same as posing. For example, W. Eugene Smith said that he almost never posed his photos. He likes to walk through the crowds unnoticed and take his pictures. But then he also said that “the majority of photographic stories require a certain amount of setting up, rearranging and stage direction, to bring pictorial and editorial coherence to the pictures.� It may be true that you need to rearrange some elements of the scene for a photo to say what you really want it to and that is just fine, but then do not go and say that it is all natural, and you were just walking along and found this great picture. I guess that I don’t really get why all these photographers would lie and try to hide the fact that they had directed or posed the scenes for their photos. As long as there is the understanding that this is actually something that they saw and they just couldn’t get the photo at the time, it shouldn’t take away from the meaning of the photo. But when they lie about it, then when the public finds out, and is seems that they usually will, then they will feel deceived and lied to and the message of the photo will be lost. Another thing that I almost found funny was that they tried to say that the war pictures were not directed. Of course they were, and it was just great that they had two different photos of two different men dying in exactly the same spot. I feel like the photographers would have a lot more credibility if they would just be honest about how they get their photos.