I must admit that prior to this course I had not thought about the term documentary photography except in its most literal term of creating a document.
I can see now that the terms reportage, photojournalism, documentary photography and art photography form a spectrum without hard dividing lines between them. Reportage is the first and the quickest, photographs taken at the time of the event, sometimes by ‘citizen journalists’. Often it will amount to a single image showing what has happened. Photojournalism is the next stage, with more context, often the written word. Documentary photography comes next, sometimes taken well after the event, but summing up the events, their consequences and the background in which they happened. Finally, art photography looks back on events and takes them out of their original context, offering opinions on what has happened rather than simply reporting.
Liz Wells in her 2009 book Photography, a critical introduction comments that in the modern world where digital technology can create photorealistic images of things which do not actually exist, photography is no longer a record of reality.
My main reaction to that is to question what is and what isn’t a photograph. A photograph is surely a ‘freeze frame’, a moment of reality that has been recorded. Whether it has been taken as a still, or as a single frame from a moving image, it is a moment in time which has been stored for the future. Continue reading The Real and the Digital
Use digital software such as Photoshop to create a composite image which visually appears to be a documentary photograph but which could never actually be.
For this exercise I thought up several different options, from placing a wild animal in the road, to creating an apparent national disaster. I tried a few test shots, but I found that some of my ideas either would not be practical or they would not work. Continue reading The Manipulated Image
Find a street that particularly interests you – it may be local or further afield. Shoot 30 colour images and 30 black and white images in a street photography style.
For this exercise, I decided that as I live in the country a local street would not have enough activity, so I visited Cambridge which is a short train ride away, and where someone carrying a camera would not be too unusual. I concentrated on St Andrew’s Street which extends into Sidney Street at one end and Regent Street at the other.
I made the decision to use my mirrorless camera rather than my SLR as it would be more discrete. Although this is a digital camera I decided not to take all the photographs in colour and then reduce some to monochrome later, but instead I started with the camera switched to black and white, then changed back to colour about halfway through the day. Continue reading Street Photography, Black and White or Colour?
Citizen journalism is a fairly new phenomenon which has come about mainly due to the ease of photography with mobile phone cameras with their immediate access to the internet.
Recent examples of this have been where relatives have secreted cameras in care homes only to find that their relatives are being abused.
This is a still from a video recorded in a care home in Somerset:
Continue reading Citizen Journalism