Dark Pits

His eyes are dark pits in his head, white fading to grey darkening to impenetrable black, and there is worry in the lines under his eyes, between his brows. But looking at him, you know he is strong. He is tired and anxious, but in the proud bearing of his head, the hollow in his neck, the little flaps on his jacket, even the dark spritz of hair sticking up at the back of his skull, the looker knows that he will overcome the grey skies pressing in around him.

It is incredible that one photograph shows all of that, a mixture of worry and defiance combined with the cold hard facts about poverty and life as a sharecropper. In this ability to convey one million words with just one picture (because one must realize that not all photographs are worth one million words; only very special ones) we see Lange’s uniqueness as a photographer.

Her every photograph holds a mixture of emotion and fact and reality that hits the viewer like a sledgehammer, without showing any of the photographer’s intent. That is the difference between Lange and Evans, why Lange’s name is known all across America today, while the first time I’d heard of Evans was when I opened “Let us Now Praise Famous Men.” This is not to say that Evans isn’t an incredible photographer as well; it is simply that in the child sitting with his legs dangling from between the railing on the bed, we can see his motives, his intent, why he had the child pose that way. It seems almost that Lange takes her work at another level of serious; she is too invested in capturing the truth to ask for poses, rather she finds people whose natures lead them to such stances and work.

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