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 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.