Environmental Portrait Series inspired by Dorothea Lange

With Dorothea Lange in mind, I photographed my friend, Michelle, in one of her environments where she works on her dissertation. Whether it is LGBTQ equality curriculum or photography, Michelle is a complex and critical thinker. She takes moments to photograph while she works. She loves teaching and photography and she has combined them in the classroom and when she studies. (self doubt by Michelle)

by Michelle Self Doubt

In the photographs you can see that Michelle has isolated herself from to avoid people. She also placed herself by the door so that she feels like she can escape. When you look at everything around her, to some it may just look like a cramped work space but for Michelle, it is a nest of comfort to help her feel better about being out in public. Michelle  brings her own coffee mug so she has a little bit of home, her safe place, with her.

She wears a bracelet for suicide prevention because of her struggles with depression and thoughts of suicide, it is a reminder to “be brave” and that she is not alone. It was a gift from her husband to also say that she has support.

I photographed Michelle keeping Dorothea Lange in mind. I tried to capture Michelle’s story through my images. Showing her strength of being away from home. This type of photography is a somewhat difficult for me because of my shyness around people I do not know and have to interact with, but what made it easier, apart from the fact that I knew her, was that they were candid shots. I never told her to do anything or move anywhere. I find these to be some of the best shots to get; when people are not staged in my photographs.

I am also not much of a talker like Lange was: introvert. Like Lange, I enjoy photographing in a natural, unstaged environment. I highlight some of the struggle Michelle confronts as well as the complexities of her life. Learning more about Lange, I hope to get out of my comfort zone a little and document the people around me without fearing the interaction that comes with it.


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