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Archive for the month “April, 2014”

Does documentary photography always depict the truth?

Documentary photography is regularly thought of to depict a true picture of what is going on. This is not always the case. People say that seeing is believing and I think in documentary photography that is true as the images shouldn’t be manipulated in a way that misinterpret the original picture, although the way the photographer takes the picture and selects what photographs go into the public eye doesn’t always depict the truth. A example of this is there could be someone in the street that is being mugged, they then try and protect their self by hitting out at the mugger. If someone was taking photographs of the whole ordeal happening they could easily just let the public see the picture of the person being mugged hitting out at the mugger. They would then look like they are the attacker but if the public were able to see the full story then they would soon realise that intact they are the victim of a mugging and are only acting in self defence. This example proves that you cannot always rely on documentary photographs to depict the truth as it is up to the photographer or the editor of the magazine/paper/website that the photos appear on to choose what photos they want to put on. There choice of images could be very one sided, if documenting a war and they are on a certain side they will most probably only document bad pictures of their opposition as they wouldn’t want the side they are on depicted in a bad way. Overall I do not feel that documentary photography depicts the truth.


Week 5, Observations and Ideas

Documentary Photography is…


A Self-assigned form of reporting that tackles big-picture problems in a nuanced and evocative fashion, building up arguments through a series of images made over long periods of time and from an informed experiential point of view.



Independent photographers combine their skills as reporters and artists, developing extended photographic essays that delve deeply into humanistic topics and present distinct personal visions of the world.

Brett Abbott Engaged Observers in Context Paul Getty Museum 2010


Philip Jones Griffiths was a famous Photojournalist from Wales. He covered the Vietnam war while working for Magnum Photo Agency. The images he took during this time is what he is now known for. His photographs reveal the disturbing realities of war that the media don’t often show us. 


He also documented the daily life in a urban war zone in Northern Island in the 1970’s


Documentary is “The selective dramatisation of facts in terms of their human consequences” – John Grierson


Sebastio Salagado is a Brazilian Photojournalist who focusses on addressing the lives of workers in less developed countries, in places that tend to go undocumented.


So called human documents are personal, heartfelt, and emotional.  Social documentary work can depict how a situation feels and not just how it looks; it can convey factual information about the world compellingly by delivering it in emotionally charged ways.

Brett Abbott Engaged Observers in Context Paul Getty Museum 2010

Laura Greenfield is a american photographer who’s project “girl Culture” draws light on the self as teem crisis amongst American women. The image below bring the attention to the on going obsession in the western world with ones appearance.



After looking at different peoples work it gave me a insight into how wide documentary photography is. You can literally go from war zones to beauty patents! The documentary photography that I find most interesting is the stuff you do not see every day. This is could be because the news channels and papers do not want you to see it or it could be due to the fact you don’t see documentary photographs on a certain subject because it is very rare someone is able to get to the places and people to take the photographs in the first place. It has made me realise that if I want to take what I feel like are good and interesting documentary photographs I will have to work hard and get myself into positions and places that the general public are usually unaware of what goes on there such as documenting a life in the day of a prisoner.



Hidden Places Assignment

As my original plan for this assignment was unable to be completed I had a very limited amount of time to get another opportunity to take some photographs for this assignment. I got in touch with a friend who I knew from his Facebook page he was in the process of producing a EP. After a few phone calls we arranged a time where I could drop into one of his studio sessions where he was recording his bass.

When I first entered the recording studio the first thing that struck me was the size of the mixing desk, there seemed to be endless buttons and knobs that all obviously have their own role, what that role is I don’t know! Mitch then gave me a brief explanation of what he was in the process of doing and how he will be moving in and out of the mix room and the recording studio and that I was free to go where I wanted. I also didn’t have to worry about how much noise I made due to the fact he was pugged in directly to his guitar and wasn’t recording off of a microphone. It was tricky to not get the same style of shot over and over again due to the fact he was only doing two things, playing the guitar and editing it using the mixing base. If I had more time I would of been able to attend more of his recording sessions and the pictures would of been more varied. This wasn’t possible due to reasons out of my control.

Here are a few of the pictures taken from my time in the studio with Mitch


ImageStudio 2Studio 1ImageImageImage

Street Photography, Shipley



These are a few of my photos were taking during a trip to Shipley. I experimented with different street photography techniques such as being obvious I was taking a photograph of the subject. Also I tried to take some surreptitious photographs where I had the camera at my hip and i wouldn’t be looking at my subject when the picture is taken. This took a few attempts so to understand what angle the camera should be at but eventually I got it. I preferred taking photos this was as it was less obvious (took the attention off of me) but also the subjects looked natural, as I found if I was obviously taking photos and they spotted me they would try to get out of the picture.

Week Four, Negotiated Photography

Photographers sometime to get exclusive and insightful photographs have to negotiate there way into certain places allowing them opportunities not normally allowed. Photographers can spend several years building trust that can then provide them with a insight into someones life with no barriers. Negotiating is a very important part of Photojournalism and especially documentary photography. 

During the lecture we got shown a couple of series of photographs that the photographers had negotiated to be able to take the photos. Some were fairly sensitive subjects such as the fallen soldiers one where Ashley Gilbertson would speak to the families of fallen soldiers to enable access into the soldiers room to take photographs of their room. Gilbertson would of spent months building up the trust of the families before they would allow him to publicise the personal space of their lost relative.

Another example of this is a Channel 4 documentary on Gypsy’s. While watching the programme it was obvious that the gypsy’s were comfortable with the cameras around them and therefore were acting natural. The natural footage that Channel 4 were able to get was only made possible by the trust they gained by the people they were filming. 

For the hidden places assignment I was asked to negotiate access to somewhere that is not usually seen. Take a set of pictures that describes what is happens in the place and also expresses your point of view as a spectator in a private or forbidden world.

I really wanted to do something to do with my passion, Motorsport’s. I had a idea that I could contact several race teams and see if any of them got back to me. Unfortunately this time none of them replied to my e-mails so I soon realised I had to go down a separate route. One of my dads friends is friends with a race chief who has a team that races in the British Superbike Championship. I was able to obtain Pauls number (The Race Chief) and give him a call. I phoned him up and explained who I was and what I was studying at University and then went onto explain the assignment I had been set. He seemed interested and asked me to e-mail him more information on what I was wanting to do. Here are the e-mails:Image

The e-mail below is what Paul sent to the Media office of the track I was going to attend.


I was unable to gain a media pass to go around the track but my original idea of taking photographs in the pits was still fine.


Unfortunately I was unable to complete this due to being called into court as a Prosecution Witness. After putting all the hard work and planning into this I was gutted that I was unable to complete this. I hope you can understand this and see that I had everything in place to go and take the photographs and the reason it wasn’t completed is completely out of my control. I am now looking to quickly organised another option for this assignment.


Week 3, Street Photography

One of the most popular street photographers at the minute is Brandon Stanton. He is known for his project called “Humans of Newyork”. The project originally began on tumblr but since then a book has been published and topped the New York Times’ best sellers list. He goes around New York meeting the inhabitants out on the streets. After chatting to them and getting their story he then takes a photograph of the person and then uploads it to the internet coupled with a quote they said.

Here are a few screen shots from his Facebook Page:ImageImage


For the street photography assignment I narrowed the four options down to two. The two i was left with were After Hours and Fast Food. 

After Hours: People on a night out, Restaurants empty/offices/bus stations, street cleaners after a saturday night cleaning up the mess before people get up on sunday morning.

Fast Food: People eating, street stalls selling food, fast food restaurants, all different cliental that eat fast food, litter from fast food.


After weighing up both sides I have decided to use the idea of fast food for my street photography assignment. I have chosen this over After hours as I am going to try and capture the different types of people that eat fast food from different classes to different ethnic groups.


Week 2, Street Photography

“Street photographs are telling objects, portraying how individuals perform their identities in public”

Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spizer quoted by Jennifer Tucker Eye on the Street: Photography in Urban Public Spaces Radical History Review September 2012


After looking through different examples of street photography from past to present and all the different styles of street photography, from in the face of the subject to surreptitious photographs. I liked the idea and method that Walker Evans used. He was able to get very close to the subject of his photographs by hiding his camera in his bag and to take the picture he had a shutter release cable running down his sleeve. The way he went about taking the photographs enabled him to get a close up but natural photograph as the subjects were unaware there photographs were being taken. Although I like his idea and the way he adapted his camera and accessories I am not sure if I would be too happy if I discovered someone was taking a picture of me using a camera hidden away.



Week 1, Magazines

Magazine Markets:


-Newspaper Supplements

-Business to Business 

-In house Journals

-Independant or Alternative 

-News and Educational


The Readers:

The way the readers are categorised is by age group or relationship status. This is used by magazine publishers to decide what is to be included in the magazine to appeal to the target audience. The adverts in the magazine will also be aimed at the same audience the magazine is trying to cater for. 

Semiotics in a Magazine:

  • Magazines construct signs to communicate social meanings for their readers
  • These signs relate to an ideology that appear natural in the context of the magazine
  • The ideology that the magazine constructs relates to the advertising that the magazine attracts.

Reasons to research magazines:

To understand who will see your pictures, what they will expect to see in certain magazines, what they expect not to see in certain magazines and how will you gain their interest?

After doing this you can then get a story, decide what you can say about the story and in what way you wish to tell the story. Depending on all these factors you can then go on to decide where your story can be published.


During this Lecture I have realised the importance of writing to suit the reader/magazine. There is no point in writing a really good piece on “The best mountain walks in Scotland” and then putting it in HEAT magazine, as this is not your intended audience and the majority of HEAT readers will not be interested in your story. Where if you put it into a walking magazine all the readers will be interested as they are your target audience. 

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