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Difference between photo essay and photo documentary

  • They are not landscape photography;
  • A rugby player crossing the line to score a try is immediate and has a very short half-life.

Eugene Smith You darkness, that I come from, I love you more than all the fires that fence in the world — for the fire makes a circle of light for everyone, and then no one outside learns of you.

But the darkness pulls in everything: And it is possible a great energy is moving near me. I have faith in nights. It is time to get back to photography.

Consider your photo subjects.

A while ago, on a forum I belong to, I was asked the question, what is the difference between photojournalism and documentary photography? It has always seemed obvious to me, but then I took the time some years ago to think it through. They are 2 terms that are easily interchanged and seen as interchangeable. In fact they are not.

Choose a specific topic or theme for your photo essay.

While they share the same genus, in fact their blood groups are incompatible. There is a difference.

  1. It is about place and space and time all photography is.
  2. Choose a specific topic or theme for your photo essay.
  3. Photojournalism images are designed for short-term audience involvement, documentary photography images for longer term study. Consider your photo subjects.
  4. Edit your photo selection. In this essay I want to look at the 2 of them and try and pick out the similarities and dissimilarities.

In this essay I want to look at the 2 of them and try and pick out the similarities and dissimilarities. Firstly what they have in common and what they are not. They are not landscape photography. Landscape photography answers the questions where and when. It is about place and space and time all photography is. This particular genre looks at the issues surrounding a place. They could be geographical, as in the work of Ansel Adams; they could be political, as in the work of Robert Adams.

They might deal with urban sprawl or the beauty of the natural world, but the keyword here is place. They are not portrait photography. This genre answers the question who and when. Occasionally where might come into it but, generally speaking, this is a side issue.

The character s of the sitters are of course, of primary importance. The works of the greats like Arnold Newman or Yousuf Karsh are character studies rather than statements about place.

  • Photograph what you experience;
  • This particular genre looks at the issues surrounding a place;
  • This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 15th, 2008 at 18:

I am, of course, generalising, but I hope you get the idea. Both landscape photography and portrait photography are the oldest of the photographic genres. Documentary photography is the youngest of them, not much over 70 years old about half the age of the medium itself. Are you ever going to get to the point, I hear you thinking. Both photojournalism and documentary photography concern themselves with who, where, when and sometimes how.

In other words they bring the separate disciplines of portrait photography and landscape photography together. They ask us to look at place and time and subject. They ask to consider the relationships between them. Here they part company. Photojournalism is more immediate, designed for quick consumption. A rugby player crossing the line to score a try is immediate and has a very short half-life.

Inevitably it will be captioned. A friend who was an illustrations editor for a major daily trained his crew to shoot images that would tell the story more or less instantly. The caption was there to fill in any extra detail. While an image like this might be of interest to a fan of the sport in years to come, for the vast majority of the public interest would wane quickly, and the event would soon be forgotten. This is not to say that some events do not have legs.

But this is still photojournalism. This is photography for instant consumption. Documentary photography on the other hand, while it identifies place and space and people and time, and asks us to consider the relationship between them even when there are no people in the image is a meal to be eaten slowly, to be savoured.

Photojournalism vs. Documentary- some thoughts

Documentary photography images have a longer half-life. They will often ask questions of us. They may surprise, bore, fascinate, intrigue or even infuriate us. But they do not take prisoners. Photojournalism images are designed for short-term audience involvement, documentary photography images for longer term study. In some ways this is historical. Photojournalism images tend to be published in newspapers, which are of course short-term in their intention and consumption.

We read the newspaper and then discard it. Documentary photography images came about through the rise of the great magazines. Because these publications were designed to be absorbed more slowly, and in many cases kept how often have you seen piles of lovingly-kept National Geographic magazines in houses and holiday homes?

  1. They are not landscape photography.
  2. While an image like this might be of interest to a fan of the sport in years to come, for the vast majority of the public interest would wane quickly, and the event would soon be forgotten. They may surprise, bore, fascinate, intrigue or even infuriate us.
  3. I am, of course, generalising, but I hope you get the idea. This particular genre looks at the issues surrounding a place.
  4. Then the festival begins. For example, a photo essay about your family may be hard to evaluate, as your own feelings about family members will impact how you take and view the photos.
  5. The series was started in response to the shooting of Samuel DuBose, an unarmed black man, by officer Ray Tensing of the University of Cincinnati Police, which happened July 19th, 2015. They are not portrait photography.

For this reason the photographs took a line away from the instant recognition characteristic of photojournalism and began to make statements that were more universal, that talked about the commonality of human experience and its differences and began to make statements that were more considered in their approach.

The demands of the magazine format and the fitting of text to images meant that images had to relate to the text and interact with each other, and this gave rise to the birth of the photo essay. By producing groups of images and editing images as groups editing is its own arcane art a new branch of the medium came into being. What also arose from this was the development of personal style, both technical and aesthetic.

It was the birth of the journalist as artist. But the images may be the capture of simple moments of life, photographs which hold the mirror of human existence up to us for contemplation. Documentary photography is an aesthetic with a longer timeframe, one which asks us to stop, to consider, giving the image time to talk to us.

And of course it demands more of our time, and intellectual engagement. This is the key difference.

So to this image. I was approached to photograph the regional finals of the national kapa haka final here in Christchurch. Kapa haka is a Maori performing art that draws heavily on its cultural roots. All Kiwis will know of the haka, which is performed by our national rugby team, the All Blacks, before international fixtures. But kapa haka is more. It is beautiful, utterly engaging and at times, makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck. But it requires understanding and knowledge of at least some of the cultural subtext.

There are 2 ways to approach an event like this. The photojournalism approach is to go, record the event and later write captions to fill in the gaps. The documentary photography approach is to look for absolutes in an event like this, to try and see aspects of the human journey in it.

It would be easy to take the former approach. It is a formulaic methodology that has been tried and tested in newsrooms around the planet.

What Makes a Photo Essay Unforgettable?

But I am easily bored, and besides, I am looking at my heritage, my whakapapa. I want to lift a corner of the blanket, to see under the surface, to capture the human journey that is so beautifully encoded in the ritual of kapa haka.

It begins in the dressing room where Te Kotahitanga, one of the ropu groups are warming up. The sound of their singing sends shivers down my spine and I have to fight back the tears. Something old is calling me. Then the festival begins. It could be a simple events shoot, like the two conferences I have shot in the past week.

But it is more. I am absorbed into the event and looking to make a statement that spins together all the things I am feeling. They jump at the end of the haka, I move to capture it, and something embeds itself on my sensor. This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 15th, 2008 at 18: