Thought for the day

"Rights aren’t rights if someone can take them away. They’re privileges. That’s all we’ve ever had in this country, is a bill of temporary privileges. And if you read the news even badly, you know that every year the list gets shorter and shorter. Sooner or later, the people in this country are gonna realize the government … doesn’t care about you, or your children, or your rights, or your welfare or your safety… It’s interested in its own power. That’s the only thing. Keeping it and expanding it wherever possible." -- George Carlin

In the hardships caused by the Great Depression, the US government created the Agricultural Security Administration to help poor farmers get back on their feet. One of the FSA's most notable efforts was its small team of documentary photographers, who traveled the country recording the living conditions of Americans.

 

John Vachon's first job in the Farm Security Administration held the title "assistant messenger." He was twenty-one years old, and had come to Washington from his native Minnesota to attend the Catholic University of America.

 

Vachon had no intention of becoming a photographer after taking office in 1936, but as his responsibilities for maintaining the FSA photographic file grew, his interest in photography grew.

 

Like fellow FSA photographer Edwin Roskam, Vachon arrived in Chicago in 1941. While Roskam covered the experience of African Americans in the city's Southside, Vachon, a still rookie photographer, took a different approach.

 

His laid-back visuals belie his status as a young photographer gaining experience, but he has a new, effortless approach to photography that makes the work uniquely his.