Dorothea Lange Essay Research Paper Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange Essay, Research Paper

Dorothea Lange was born on May 25, 1895 in Hoboken New Jersey. Her real name was Dorothea Nutzhorn. She attended a teacher-training school before studying to become a photographer with Clarence White. Dorothea opened up a photography studio in San Francisco, California in 1916. Dorothea took many pictures during the Depression and of the World War. Dorothea Lange led a very busy life.

Dorothea Lange lived with her mother in Hoboken, New Jersey. Her mother Joan worked in a library in New York City on the lower East Side of Manhattan. Every day Dorothea would go to school near her mother s job and after school she would go to the library to wait for her mother to go home. She used to read book and look down on the streets full of noisy pedestrians, and would focus on every detail. She spent hours looking at photographs. She would study them in the library, on the walls in her classroom, in newspapers, and magazines. The one that touched her the most she would put up on her wall in her room.

Dorothea was very unhappy in school because no one knew who she was and she had no friends in school. She was the only non-jew in her school and she felt like an outsider. Dorothea never joined any clubs and never played any games. She used to love to just sit in her mother s library and read book or watch people from the windows

Dorothea s grandparents on both sides had moved from Germany to America hoping for a better life. Her father was Henry Nutzhorn, a young lawyer. Dorothea s family moved several times from one town to the next , then back to Hoboken.When she was only seven, Dorothea came down with polio, a paralyzing illness. The illness damaged Dorothea s right leg from the knee down. It made her lame for the rest of her life. All the children called her Limpy and that made her upset. Even her mother was ashamed to walk in the streets with a crimpled child. It made her bitter that her mother acted this way but it did not stop her from facing the challenges of life.

One night Dorothea s father took her to see A Midsummer Night s Dream. He hired a coach and a horse to take them there. When they got there, there weren t any seat available, so he put her on his shoulder s to watch the show. One day, he left her. She was about twelve years old when her parents got divorced. Her father deserted the family and Dorothea never saw him again. He never wrote, call, or visited after that. Dorothea never knew why he left her, she was so terrified by it that she never spoke of him again.

Dorothea graduated from P.S. 62 and went to the local high school Wadleigh High School. The school s size mad her miserable because she had never seen so many people in one school. The high school for her was to strict for someone who loved freedom. She often cut class and she would walk up and down 100th street. She did this because she loved the roving crowded streets. She just wanted to reach out and bring everything close to her. Her mother didn t know how often she cut school and Dorothea didn t mind that. She wasn t one of the best high school students; she did her best in arts but the school didn t consider that important. Martha Bruere, one of Dorothea s teachers soon became one of her good friends. She was the physics teacher and Dorothea was going to fail the class but Martha passed her so that Dorothea wouldn t stay back.

Dorothea s grandmother Sophie Lange also lived with them. She was a widow and made a living as a dress maker. Her grandmother had a terrible temper. She would make rude comments when people she didn t like came over. By the time Dorothea got to high school her grandmother had become a messy old women who drank too much and was always arguing with Dorothea. She hit Dorothea whenever she lost her temper, but Dorothea s mother was to scared to stop her. The only one that could stop her was her great-aunt Caroline.

When graduation time came around Dorothea s mother asked her what she would do after graduation and what she was good at and Dorothea said she wanted to be a photographer. Dorothea s mother did not accept that because she believed that women had to work as teachers or nurses, etc. So she made Dorothea go to teacher-training school. She didn t want to be a teacher but she attended class anyway. She soon met a photographer named Arnold Genthe and learn how to take negatives and print proofs from them, how to use a brush to retouch negatives and how to mount and frame the final piece. To Dorothea teacher-training school seemed like a wate of her time so she dropped out. She didn t care if her mother liked it or not. Dorothea soon left Genthe and spent six months in another studio. There she learned about running a portrait studio. She learned all the tricks of the trade. She left that studio and moved to another one to learn how to work a camera, something she still didn t know how to do. Dorothea watch carefully and took in everything she learned. One day a portrait commission from a wealthy family came in but no one was on hand to shoot the pictures. Desperately Dorothea s boss told her to shoot them. This would be Dorothea s first portrait. The results pleased the family and her boss. Her next assignment was to photograph a famous British actor, Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree. She was very nervous but he liked her and he gave her much confidence. After that she was named the studio s official camerawomen. She kept moving from studio to studio and would learn more about photography from four or five other photographers.

In 1917, she signed up for a professional course with a master photographer named Clarence White. That year Dorothea made many portraits on her own. She took pictures of family, friends, neighbors, and children. But in 1918, Dorothea and her friend Fronsie left home and moved to San Francisco, but when they got there they were robbed. They had to get jobs to eat. Dorothea got a job at a camera supply stored named Marsh s. That was when she decided to drop her father s last name and add her mother s maiden name.

Through Marsh s she began to make friends and to take photographs of them. She joined a camera club to learn how to use the dark room. There she made more friends and a year later a generous businessman helped her open up her own studio. It was the center of her life for years. One day in 1920 a friend brought a man named Maynard Dixon into the studio. Six months later Dorothea married him. He was 20 years older than her but they were in love. As the years passed their marriage got stormy. The weren t making enough money to pay bills


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