What is documentary photography?
Documentary photography records an occasion or historical event – something happening. Fine art photographers utilise documentary photography to capture personal as well as external events.
An ‘event’ doesn’t have to be earth-shatteringly, universally important; fine art documentary photographers have always been interested in the routine and the seemingly mundane. The focus of the camera with documentary photography usually centres around people, but place has occasionally taken precedence.
Categorising work isn’t always a straightforward task; some documentary photography can be categorised as street photography, and vice-versa. To add to the confusion, when documentary photography is channelled around a particular socially concerned area, images can be classed a social documentary.
Social documentary (or ‘concerned photography’) is its twin sister, with a mutual sibling to be found in photojournalism photography.
Five (very individual) documentary photographers you should know: