The photograph, Migrant Mother, is one of the most famous and recognizable black-and white-photographs of all time. The photograph depicts a woman (presumably a mother) sitting with two children facing her. The mother is resting her face on her hand and looking off into the distance, rather than at the camera. The mother seems to be deep in thought and the expression on her face seems that of despair. It can be assumed that based on the mood of the photograph, a troubling event has occurred and that the mother is either fearful or saddened by this event. The children clutching her and burying their heads onto her shoulders reinforces this mood and creates an overall somber theme to the photograph.
Within the image, several textures exist including the woman’s weathered and wrinkled face and the crude, cheaply-made clothing that she and the children wear. These textures suggest that the woman and children are likely of the working class and that the mother had endured a long life of hard work. The image is framed by the two children, drawing the eye of the viewer immediately to the mother who is situated in the center of the photograph, between each child. The details of the photo are clearly in focus while the background, behind the figures is slightly out of focus drawing more attention to the figures in the forefront. The image is shot from the vantage point of somebody who may be sitting at eye-level with the mother, immediately in front of her and staring at her straight on. This vantage point makes the photograph seem more intimate and invasive, as though at any time the mother may look directly at the photographer and realize her presence.
The significance of this image is that it takes place during the Great Depression, depicting a woman of a lower socio-economic status with two young children. The image is powerful as it makes you wonder what this woman is thinking about. Perhaps she and her children are impoverished and she is wondering how she will continue to take care of them. The image is iconic due to its historic significance and the way it captures the mood of the era in which it was shot where many other low-income families too may have been concerned about caring for their families amidst a depressed economy.