Defining Documentary

Activity Steps:

1. Look:
Spend some time looking at the pictures in the Dorothea Lange gallery. Pay close attention to the pictures' titles, as they often provide supplementary information.
2. Analyze:
Think about what it means to tell a story about a place or event. Consider the following questions?
  1. How does a photograph's title or caption help us to know what we are looking at?
  2. What do you think was outside the frame of the photograph?
  3. Why do you think Lange used photography to tell her stories? What do we learn about her subjects through photography that written or verbal descriptions might not have conveyed?
3. Create:
Choose one of Lange's pictures and write a short story about its subject. Keep in mind that your story will be different depending whose viewpoint you choose. Try to keep your story in the present tense, describing the subject's current situation.
4. Present:
Share your story with the class.
5. Extension:
Find two different photographs of the same or related subjects and discuss their differing points of view, either in your journal or in conversation with a classmate. Newspapers or magazines are often good sources for such images.