Defining Documentary

The Big Idea:

What can a portrait tell you about a person?

Activity overview

Dorothea Lange is best known for her documentary photographs showing the poverty and bleak living conditions that plagued migrant workers during the Great Depression. Her pictures are a lasting record of the social and economic forces that affected people's lives at that time. In this activity you will learn how photography can tell a story.

Look closely

Click on each artist button at right to view detailed screens about the artist and his or her works. Be sure to click on all images, view all videos, read all documents, and use the zoom tool to look closely at the works of art.

In this activity you will:

  1. study the photographs of Dorothea Lange
  2. think about how photographs can tell stories
  3. write a short story about a particular photographic subject
  4. present your story to the class

You will be graded on:

  1. research notes from Voices and Images of California Art
  2. analysis of photographs
  3. style and content of written story