The Inspiration of Dorthea Lange

Last week I had the pleasure of watching the American Masters documentary on PBS about one of my heroes, Great Depression photographer Dorthea Lange.  Her work has greatly influenced my abandoned farmhouse hunting and photography whenever I visit my family in South Dakota.  Dorthea’s compassion and unyielding desire to tell the tragic and heroic stories of our nation’s poor, interned and displaced through photography woke our nation up.  Dorthea’s images prompted more action than print alone could possibly ever have conveyed.

I’ve always found great beauty among the ruins in all forms.  Things that are new just don’t give me much creative juice.  I like to see everything worn out, faded, distressed and destroyed.  To me there’s always a lot more stories among the ruins.

“It is not enough to photograph the obviously picturesque.”


“Pick a theme and work it to exhaustion… the subject must be something you truly love or truly hate.”

—Dorthea Lange

You can watch the American Masters documentary online or look on demand from your local listings.

These images I shot with my niece south of Burke, South Dakota in January.  I’m guessing someone will recognize the house, my sincere apologies for trespassing.  The pull to see what was inside was just too much for us to resist.

There are links to Dorthea’s biography and images if you scroll down.



Dorthea Lange’s biography

Dorthea Lange’s photographs

Migratory Patterns & Seasonal Shifts

Geese in Addison VT

verb (used without object), mi·grat·ed, mi·grat·ing.
1. to go from one country, region, or place to another.
Synonyms: move, resettle, relocate. Antonyms: remain.
2. to pass periodically from one region or climate to another, as certain birds, fishes, and animals: The birds migrate southward in the winter.
3. to shift, as from one system, mode of operation, or enterprise to another.

I took this picture over the weekend in Addison, Vermont on a trip to Philadelphia. It struck me so much that October and early November can feel like a migratory transition time for a lot of us for a lot of different reasons. There is a natural shift as the length of our days and temperatures change. Watching the geese and knowing that they are heading south soon made me think about which seasonal shifts I want to execute in my life. I want to try to be mindful and deliberate in these choices. What needs your attention now?