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Archive for Creating a Social Documentary Photo Essay

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Don't Bring "Street Think" Into Your Documentary Work

Many people fall short in their documentary work because they are thinking like street photographers. Documentary photography is at a whole different level than street photography, which takes much more work and thought.

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Which is Best for Documentary Photography - Mirrorless or DSLR?

I haven't commented on this often mentioned debate, but my position is still the same as it was two years ago.

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Motto of the streets: Nothing is as it seems, and everything is for sale...

Here is an example of why documentary photographers should really get to know their subjects before reporting. Some people who viewed this image and read its caption, came away with the false idea that this person is suffering due to a lack of funding within our American medical system. The caption reads:

I used to see this guy daily, but now only once or twice a month. Diabetic - he collects money to buy medicine. I help him every time I can, in more ways than just the obvious. But he also helps me, in more ways than I can ever repay.

The truth... His name is Ali, and he's NOT a Diabetic, he's a heroin addict. Those are abscesses on his legs from shooting up. The photographer fell for his hustle. Every dime anyone gives him, will go for dope.

Here's an example of how the narrative is being received by viewers of the image:

"This picture tells such a horrific tale about the American medical system because this should never be."

While the photographer may have had the best of intentions, they totally misrepresented the truth of the story.

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Here's a short video about how to approach groups and communities of total strangers. With documentary photography, you have to have an "in."

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Creating a Social Documentary Photo Essay: Part Two - Working With Blurb to Create a Magazine

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Creating a Social Documentary Photo Essay: Part One - Adding Titles and Captions to Single Images

Social Documentary 5 Photo Challenge

The first step in moving from a street photography mindset, and into a social documentary outlook, is to start thinking in terms of multiple image storytelling. In any story there is a beginning, a middle, and an end. Pick a subject to photography and begin approaching your shoots with this mindset. You could photograph a local parade, a sporting event, or just about anything that has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

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St. Cinder

Iron Horse Adventure: In Search of Billy the Kid’s Black Hill Hideout

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