The following quote by Francis Bacon was tacked onto Dorothea LAnge’s darkroom door in 1923, where it remained until her death in 1965
The Contemplation of things as they are
Without error or confusion
Without substitution or imposture
Is in itself a nobler thing
Than a whole harvest of invention
The following notes have been extracted from this book;
Notes From : Dorothea Lange – With a critical essay by George P Elliott – Museum of Modern Art. Second Printing 1968
In every are glancing is an enemy of vision, but in none so much as in photography. Mass journalism has trained us to glance, and the big money photographers have made themsleves masters of the craft of the quick impression: visual elements so whimsically juxtapsoed that the effect is to jolt or tickle the viewer.
It is the photographer’s faith that anything really seen is worth seeing.
There are ways to get a viewer to second look at photographs which do not make a socko first impression, and the photographer can do something about some of these ways. However essential pre-condition is beyond his control: the viewer must be willing to pause, to look again, to meditate.
On “Migrant Mother”
This picture, like a few others of hers, like a few others of a few other photographers, leads a life of its own. That is, it is widely accepted as a work of art with its own message rather than its makers, far more people know the picture than know who made it. There is a sense in which the photographer’s apotheosis is to become as anonymous as his camera.
What had come to matter to her most was that a photograph, perfect or not should say, “Here is what these people look like now”.
“Vision” has religious or mystical overtones. Yet no art is less mystical, by its nature, than photography , especially referential photography
The appearance of actual things, which comprise photography’s subject matter, are by definition superficial and often illusory or deceptive as well.
A paradox: glancing is a foe of art, yet a person walking around in the world with a camera in his hand must see in glances. A camera shutter does not glance so much as super glance. Glancing for so short a time, it takes out of time what it sees.