TellThatStory decided to conduct research on two genres of photography that often have been confused as one and the same thing. In light of this, some artists attempted to give it a go. Below is one of such responses. The content of this post is an opinion of the author and not necessarily the opinion of TellThatStory. Enjoy the read.
In your own words and from your experience what is Documentary photography? For me, documentary photography is simply telling stories or a narrative with compelling images. Documentary photography digs deeper, and it takes time outside of a “one-off” in telling a story.
How is it different from Street photography? Are there cross-cutting edges? For me, the difference is in the time spent, research, and images that come out from just one narrative. For example, a street photographer can decide to photograph the street, but a documentary photographer can decide to explore the lives of the young boys that live on the street or explore street food over time.
Some say documentary photography should always be done in projects, how true is this? This is true, but I think what makes every project stand out is the in-depth research of the subject matter.
What is the essence of documentary photography to you? Documentary photography allows me to bring my ideas to life, what strikes me the most is how it has a bit of all genre of photography and all aspects of life in it. So if I’m exploring the narrative of beauty, to an extent, I have to understand fashion photography, the human figure, cosmetology, etc.
What will you say now is your documentary photography voice? What sayest thou? My documentary photography voice is in the kind of narratives I’m interested in exploring with my camera; narratives on migration, on women, on Identity, and on socio-cultural issues.
Is it a profitable venture? Yes, how I can make a profit from it? I have done photography all my life and that’s what pays my bills. But what gives me fulfillment the most is not in the money I make off it but the personal projects and commissioned projects/ assignments I successfully execute.
Last words to those in and those who will enter in? Be sure this is the path you want to go as a photographer, personal development is key (reading books, relevant workshops, support groups, be teachable), get a mentor, your personal project(s) is your passport.
This is a contribution from Ebunoluwa Akinbo, a Documentary Photographer & Photojournalist based in Nigeria.