This is a photo captured by Dorothea Lange during “The Great Depression” in Calipatria, Imperial Valley.
In this photo, Lange uses framing, contrast, and point-of-view to create a lonely mood. The man sitting on the opening of the train is framed in the right of the photo. However, the focus of the photo is on the train. In this case, the man is not really the center of this photo and could be considered a subordinate element. This creates a strong contrast between the man and the train, making the man look small and insignificant. The word “MOBILE” on the top left of this photo is a focal point. There is a strong contrast between the white bolded word and the black train. The train and the man are both part of the middle ground. The bundle of clothes and fabric placed on the middle foreground is a subordinate element. It is placed in a very unusual spot. The straight lines on the train’s doors are leading lines that lead to the man. It enhances the composition and attract the reader. The lines of the doors and the lines of the railway creates a unity feeling. The point-of-view of this photo is slightly below. This makes the viewer feel as if the subject in control of a situation. It imparts a feeling of smallness and a sense of unobtainable. The facial expression of the man is unclear, but he does not look sad.
In the description of this photo, it gave a little background of this photo. This is a train siding across tracks from pea packing plant. The man in the photo is a twenty-five-year-old itinerant, originally from Oregon. “On the road eight years, all over the country, every state in the union, back and forth, pick up a job here and there, traveling all the time.” This also creates the mood of unsettled, insignificant, and lonely.
The life of this man is very relatable to the story of the two main characters in John Steinbeck’s Of The Mice and Men. The book and this photo are both from California during “The Great Depression”. In the book, the two main characters, George and Lennie, travelled from Weed, California, to a ranch in Soledad, looking for a new job. The life of the two characters illustrated in the book is much similar to the life of the man in the photo.
Through using many visualization techniques, Lange portrayed the life of an ordinary worker in California during “The Great Depression”.