History Of Documentary Photography

1228 Words5 Pages
What is Documentary Photography? The term ‘documentary photography’ is used widely to describe the taking of images to provide a record. I am going to explore how documentary photography is interpreted and how the term defines its image making. The documentary genre of photography has different modes of representation that I will be looking at. I will be exploring its various styles, movement, practice and its role in social investigation The word ‘document’ literally means evidence. Since the beginning of photography in 1839, photography is our most accurate record of reality, and has been used to document real people, events, places and circumstances. Documentary photography developed around the time of the Civil War and was assigned a genre closer to journalism. At the beginning of photographic practice image making was viewed very differently to how it is now. This implied that the photographers were skilled technicians rather than artists and just observers of the social scene. Early documentary photography consisted of subjects such as war, the dead, but mainly of the working class and immigrant workers. Before photography the middle and upper classes had very little exposure of witnessing working class life and people from overseas. This rise in the documentation allowed people to see real evidence and helped in the education process of society. Two pioneers of documentary photography were Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine. Hine photographed immigrant and working class life in the United States. His images showed child labour, children working in factories highlighting poor conditions such as "Addie Card, 12 years. Spinner in North Pormal Vt." Showing a 12-year-old girl spinning cotton in a factory. His images informed us of the multiple contingencies that affect the life of an individual. He allowed his subjects to keep their sense of self, free of
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