Documentary photography is related to other types of photography, such as: artistic photography, street photography and photojournalism. The focus that each one has on some social issue may be what differentiates it from the other photographs. The documentary photographer’s goal is to create an accurate representation of a particular subject. The photos are not posed, nor are they glamorous; they capture the reality of each recorded situation and have the power to connect the viewer to the subject presented.
Documentary images are not limited to a single news or event (as in photojournalism), they are used together to clarify a deeper reflection about some discussion. It is very common for a collection of photos to tell the full story and raise questions about a problem. Documentary photographs go beyond the recording of specific events; a series of images can raise relevant questions (social, political, economic, religious, taboos, etc.) to turn people’s attention to a particular topic (perhaps never discussed).
Before you start a project, you need to prepare and create a plan according to your goals and needs. Think creatively and critically when choosing your equipment so as not to get “stuck” to the wrong equipment throughout the photographic process. Then focus on telling a story; research a lot on the subject you want to record, depart in the theme and present that reality in a reliable way. If you don’t understand the problems and issues you’re trying to document, you won’t be able to convey to people the senses and truths of these events.
Understanding the situations of the theme in question means knowing the history, the current state of that reality, what you think needs to be shaped and lead people to the debate of these problems. You not only record the facts, but also in photojournalism; you need to sharpen viewers’ interest in that story and “provoke” questions on their part – or promote actions generated by concerns based on the yea for changes and improvements, unlike photojournalism.
Remember that documentary photography is not about portraits or studio photography, so captured images should not be posed. You have the power to capture sincere and unique images, document what is there and not interfere with or affect the recorded situation. The closer you get to spontaneity and sensitivity, the greater the chances of conveying the truth honestly. Make sure people feel at ease while being photographed and always be attentive to capture simple, unique and natural moments.
When it comes to storing your documentary photo set, always back up your project images (daily) so you don’t risk losing them. Documentary photos can last for weeks, months, or years; this means that you will record thousands of photos. So don’t just trust your camera card! If you have a decent internet connection, save your images to the cloud. If not, you can store them on multiple USB sticks, hd’s or memory cards.
Telling a complete and engaging story through documentary photographs requires a great investment of time, so make sure you have enough time to do your job. Set in advance the deadline that you can use in your project taking into account your needs and possibilities. If you’re just started, you can start a project near your home, to be able to register daily and long term, saving on travel costs.
Also invest your time in creating your own portfolio with stunning images that show your personal style to publicize your work – creating a website or investing in social media are measures you can take. Nowadays, through a smartphone, you can control the actions of your website and use the necessary tools quickly and conveniently. A professional website comes with all the essential features for you to customize the way you present your services.
When you set out to create a documentary, you’ll need to define which topics and topics will be highlighted. If you’re having trouble choosing a subject to start your project, choose that theme you consider especially important. Perhaps the best stories are those that have a “pinch” of personality and subjectivity, as they can express some internal questions of the documentary photographer – allowing the viewer to approach their reality.
All about Documentary Photography
In the area of documentary photography and in your role as an instrument of social change, you will face challenges that will take you out of your comfort zone. At this moment, do not be afraid to push boundaries and chase your goals, always practicing respect and empathy. The images that have the most effect, usually, are those that shock people in some way. Show something new or provocative, something no one had thought of before; Use your personal skills to present subjects based on your perspective.
Finally, choose your best photos for editing. If you get basic knowledge and a good image editing processing program, this will help you maintain the professional quality of your photographs. Always remember to show reality as it is, so that your work generates confidence in the viewer and you get credibility. Showing the truth will not always bring beneficial consequences, but being an honest and ethical professional will provide you with unique experiences and satisfaction in what you know how to do best: telling stories, generating reflections, promoting actions and transmitting emotions through your images.