Part one – Reflection
At the end of Project 5 the course notes ask the following questions in reflection to part one:
“What was your idea of documentary photography before you worked on Part One?”
Before I worked on part one of this course documentary meant street photography; images taken to record events which were mainly about people and places. Quite basic a definition really.
How would you now sum it up?”
I now realise that documentary is so much more than my original basic interpretation. I hadn’t appreciated that there were sub-genres to documentary photography and what the differences were; that each sub-genre has its own place in photographic practice for a particular reason. The history of photography as a document and then as art is again something I wasn’t aware of (or at least consciously) but by reading the texts provided within the course materials and in the recommended reading it’s all starting to come together – a picture is building (excuse the pun). It’s important to understand photography’s past to appreciate how it has changed, both from a technical perspective but also from a cultural and social perspective too. ‘Documentary’ photography is a lot farther reaching in its context and narrative than I had appreciated when I started the course.
What are the differences between documentary, reportage, photojournalism and
Documentary is the making of a record or to document. Documentary photography has come to cover a variety of genres, such as those below. It can of course be street photography but is not limited to.
Reportage photography is a story in images from one persons point of view. Nan Goldin’s work is a good example of this; very personal and subjective reportage imagery.
Photojournalism refers to news imagery. It is photography which informs “the public of events and happenings across the world.” (Boothroyd, 2017 : 26) This could be in the form of imagery taken live (whilst it happens) or in the aftermath (after it has happened) .
Art photography is (but not limited to) documentary images being viewed as part of an exhibition. So it is more about context i.e. where the photographs are shown.
Boothroyd, S (2017) Context and Narrative, Barnsley: OCA.
Bull, S (2010) Photography, Abingdon: Routledge.