May 16, 2022

Important Stories Aren’t Enough; Good Documentary Photography Matters!

Documentary photography plays an integral function in shaping the worlds ideals and combating injustice. An excellent story can open our eyes to things we have not seen, even as those things might have already been in plain sight. As effective as it may be, I believe professional photographers in this field get a little bit more freedom than they should, especially when it concerns the quality of the photography.

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Documentary Photography Compared to the Rest

When we look at other categories in photography (portrait, landscape, editorial as examples) we have an expectation of how those images need to look. For pictures, we want to see sharp eyes.

Landscape photography.

In photojournalism (a genre closed connected with documentary) the only real expectation is to tell the reality. As long as people can see the story, thats whats most crucial.

Great Documentary Photography Matters

With documentary work, professional photographers tend to have more time. They have the high-end of being able to be more systematic with their method to image-making, especially if its a long-form task. Yet, even more frequently, I see documentary professional photographers submit below average images hoping the story will suffice to grab the viewers attention. In some cases, a story is compelling enough that the photos dont have to be that strong. That often isnt the case, and poor photography just takes away from the message intended.

” If you want to affect perfects and open up eyes, then you need to have a body of work that attracts peoples attention, despite the story.”

Some photographers attempt to gloss over their bad photography by using elitist language in their submissions, however youre not tricking this editor. I know horrible photography when I see it, and in todays age, its almost difficult to inform a story nobody is yet to see.

Strong Documentary Photography Is Important

Image by Rob Walwyn

Documentary photography plays an important function in shaping the worlds suitables and battling injustice. I understand awful photography when I see it, and in todays age, its almost impossible to tell a story nobody is yet to see. I d argue that in documentary photography, strong imagery is more important than in other genres. No matter how powerful your story, remarkable photography has to be at the forefront of what youre sharing. Documentary photography isnt photojournalism.

Last Thought

I consider the work of Rob Walwyn. We featured him back in August 2021. His images were infrared film photos that looked at the landscape of New South Wales. With or without context, Walwyn has actually made some spectacular images, and they stood out of our readership. Once the images sucked them in, Walwyn was able to share the truths of the bushfires that destroyed 80% of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

I d argue that in documentary photography, strong imagery is more crucial than in other genres. This might be a hard pill to swallow, but many people dont want to check out whats going incorrect on the planet (not on a deep level, at least). If you wish to influence perfects and open eyes, you have to have a body of work that brings in individualss attention, regardless of the story.

No matter how effective your story, exceptional photography needs to be at the leading edge of what youre sharing. Documentary photography isnt photojournalism. The majority of the time, you do not have the very same pressures. If youre working on a project and believe your images get a pass, think once again. Ill duplicate, its now more important than ever (especially when youre battling for peoples attention) to have compelling images that hold a viewers look. Otherwise, you can forget about raising awareness and kiss bye-bye to driving change. Put the work into your storytelling and image-making; youll harness far more success.