Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams were two of the foremost photographers of their time - Lange gaining fame documenting the experiences of the depression and Adams for his images of the western American landscape. Both photographed the internment of Japanese Americans for the War Relocation Authority. Adams' photos have been available since they were taken in Manzanar in 1943; Lange's 1942 images were censored until made available under the Freedom of Information Act in the 1970's. Why? You will compare and contrast images done by each photographer and decide for yourself why one set of photos was approved for public consumption during and after the war and one not.

Ansel Adams

Dorothea Lange

To Start You Thinking

1) Study the images done by each photographer as well as the captions. Compare and contrast the two sets of photos. How do they differ in terms of subject, mood, use of light and shadow, and perspective. Refer to specifics in each of the photos as you write your comparison.

2) Why do you suppose Lange's photos were not seen by the American public for almost 30 years after they were taken?


Ansel Adams photos from Ansel Adams's Photographs of Japanese American Internment at Manzanar, Library of Congress, American Memory Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, 1943.

Dorothea Lange photos for the Department of the Interior, War Relocation Authority, in the National Archives, 1942.

Last modified in March, 2017 by Rick Thomas