Lovers, Richmond, California

Object Details


Lovers, Richmond, California


Dorothea Lange (American, 1895 - 1965)




Richmond, California, United States (Place created)




Gelatin silver print


25.1 x 25.6 cm (9 7/8 x 10 1/16 in.)


© Oakland Museum of California, the City of Oakland

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A quality that the artist responds to is the only way to make a documentary photograph. A documentary photograph is not factual, per se. It carries the full meaning and significance of the episode or the circumstance or the situation that can only be revealed--because you can't really capture it--by this other quality.
--Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange often sought out subjects whose lives were affected by government policies--including those whose occupations depended on America's efforts during World War II. She documented factory workers in Richmond, California, a booming harbor town near her home, where ships were being built twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

These two factory workers appear to be taking a break between shifts. The scarcity of their personal time is suggested by a parking meter, which reads "violation" and dominates the picture's foreground. Although Lange captured a private moment between the lovers, her view of them is not sentimental. The image's relatively dark tonal range underscores an ominous quality--in part suggested by the man's tight grip around the woman's neck--and the stark backdrop of factory buildings in the distance. Lange's low camera angle also isolates her subjects from their surroundings.


John Dixon

About Life: The Photographs of Dorothea Lange (October 15, 2002 to February 9, 2003)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 15, 2002 to February 9, 2003
Photographers of Genius (March 16 to July 25, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 16 to July 25, 2004

Keller, Judith. In Focus: Dorothea Lange. Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2002), p.57.