Here is a photo with so much meaning—layers and layers—that it's almost overwhelming to look at. Yet the subject is so very simple no one on earth could possibly be confused.

Immortalized forever by famous photographer Dorothea Lange, we see a woman with dirt all over her face, frayed clothes, weathered skin, baby in her arms and children leaning on her tired shoulders. Yet she still has the dignity, the grace, to hold her hand to her face in such a delicate way. There is a beauty in her stoicism, and a real physical beauty in her classic features. No one is to know the depth of her poverty.

When I look at this picture, I feel tired and sad. But I also feel the love this woman has for her children, and the undying need she most likely possess to protect their innocence. I want her to succeed. I want to give her comfort. And I want her children to be clean and to be fed and to be happy.

How does this picture make you feel?


  1. I also see the word DUTY in her expression. It makes me feel a little depressed, but relieved that we now see far fewer such as her. Overt showings of opulence are possibly just as bad.

  2. Is it from the era of dust bowl 'Okies' Amy? That's the trouble with pictures, it is very difficult to step back and see it for what it might be, if you have any idea of the background. In the next 2 seconds, everyone could be laughing.

  3. I think it is Tom. I almost wrote a little about the history and The Grapes of Wrath, Woody Guthrie and all that, but decided to keep it simple.

    Here's a quote by Lange about the shot: "I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean- to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it."

  4. Here's a Wiki page on the woman, Florence Owens Thompson:

  5. What a beautiful photo. The word that comes to mind when I see this is 'strength'. She just looks so strong, like she'd fend off anything that would harm her children.

  6. Wow, this photo definitely covers the the spectrum of emotions... I would have to say "worry," though the most.

    I can feel the worry that she has, about the wellbeing of her children, herself...

  7. Talli- Insightful. She was definitely carrying a lot of weight in a silent, and very proud sort of way.

    Dr. Heckle- Hello! Can you believe she was only 32? Her face looks so strained and weathered, and yet absolutely beautiful.

  8. Just wanted to let you know you won something on my blog, nothing special. Check it out if you have time. I hope you're having a great day!!

  9. This picture actually makes me feel... inspired. She looks like a strong woman, and one strong woman can lead to another.

    By the way, I'm likin' your blog! : ]

  10. Thank you Kimberly! So sweet!

    Amanda- welcome and thank you! I like that you see inspired. I hadn't thought of that, but it's shouting to me now. She is very inspiring in so many ways.

  11. And thank you for stopping by my blog!


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