Humanism in the Photography of Walker Evans

An analysis of four photographs taken by Walker Evans, a photographer who documented the plight of American farmers during the Great Depression.

The paper studies photographs taken by Walker Evans – a photographer hired by the Farm Security Administration (FSA) during the Great Depression to document the farmers’ condition. Evans found visions of farming life that stirred his social conscience, and that is what he recorded with his camera. By looking at four of his photographs the author of this paper examines Evans’ ability to make statements about the economy of the time through a camera lens.
“In the picture “City Lunch Counter”(1929), Walker captured the economic disparity of the early Depression. He photographed a lunch counter from the waitress’s side and showed three men eating. The men on either end were well-dressed, in pressed suits, looking well groomed and fresh. In the center is a man smaller in stature, visually communicating his lessened power. He is shabbily dressed and looks around warily. Walker said that photographs should not need explanations (Rubifien, 2000), and this picture illustrates it well. Walker has captured the human effects of an impersonal economy out of control.”