Migratory Cotton Picker by Dorothea Lange (1940)

The photograph titled “Migratory Cotton Picker” was taken by the artist Dorothea Lange in the year 1940. This striking black-and-white image captures a close-up view of a male cotton picker, emphasizing the individual’s physical characteristics and presenting an intimate perspective on his life and labor during that era.

In the photograph, the man is gazing directly at the camera with a penetrating and somewhat weary look. His face is marked by signs of hard physical labor—lined, weathered, and dust-covered. One hand is raised to his face, displaying fingers splayed across his cheek and chin, with the hand and fingers coated in dirt, suggesting the grime from his toils in the cotton fields. The lighting casts strong shadows across his face, which highlights the rough texture of his skin and the fatigue apparent in his expression. The composition of the shot, focusing tightly on his face and hand, serves to evoke a sense of the personal struggles and the human aspect of agricultural labor during this time period. This portrait is a classic example of Lange’s work documenting the American life and social issues, particularly during the Great Depression.

Other Photographs from Dorothea Lange

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