Documentary Photography

  • Documentary photography usually refers to a popular form of photography used to chronicle both significant and historical events and everyday life. It is typically covered in professional photojournalism, or real life reportage, but it may also be an amateur, artistic, or academic pursuit.

Many people, including myself, are interested in this style of photography. The documenting of people and what they do in their daily lives is of particular interest to me. I suppose you could, in some ways, call me a voyeur, as I like to watch and record the daily interactions of people, un-posed and many times without their knowledge or consent.

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LH3A3929-Edit copyMany off my pictures are not about significant events but generally about the more mundane, daily life, that we all experience or witness. Does this make them less interesting I often ask myself, I have yet to answer that question.IKMX100©-1204

IKMX100©-1405Many of my pictures may not even feature people but have a attractive shapes or colors that drew me to them, they may also say something about the place I am photographing, like the sun hats image here.

LH3A4403-Edit copyI spend many hours ”walking” the city and taking pictures that interest me, you cannot do this kind of photography from inside a car or on the back of a motorcycle. I am not really a technical photographer, I know my cameras well enough to be able to use them to capture what may be a fleeting event or scene. If you become to worried about technical issues you stand a good chance of missing the moment.D2HS-0084

Be ready and observant and have your camera ready to shoot, no good in a camera bag or with the lens cap on. Camera gear and lenses are expensive but be too protective of them and you will miss interesting images.1DMK2-0696Is it ethical to take pictures of people without their consent, personally I think not as long as those images do not intentionally show them in a bad light or mock them. Most people (particularly here in Asia) do not object to having a picture taken and are usually interested to see the results. If a person expresses that they do not want their picture taken I always respect their wishes.1DMK2-0736Many time though they are too busy going about their business to even notice me. I try to be quick and as unobtrusive as possible, slip into the background. If people do notice what I am doing I am happy to talk and show them the images I have taken, I get almost zero problems.

The key to successful documentary/street photography is do not overload yourself with gear, 1 camera (that you are comfortable with) and maybe 2 lenses (a WA and a tele zoom). Batteries and memory cards ++. Spend lots of time walking or on the spot you choose. Take lots of pictures.

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