TellThatStory decided to conduct research on two genres of photography that often had 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 word and from your experience what is Documentary photography? It is a way of capturing cultural, historical, and traditional events and my environment every day of my life. In another way, I will say it is professional photojournalism or real-life reportage.
How is it different from Street photography? Are there cross-cutting edges? Street photography is the way of capturing the everyday life of strangers, with or without their knowledge in public spaces. To me, street photographers do not necessarily have a purpose in mind. For documentary photography, on the other hand, there is always a plan of documenting something as I do with my culture and traditions.
This said street photography can become a documentary when there is a plan. I see wedding photography as documentary photography, in short, every aspect of photography can be documentary depend on how the photographer plans it.
Some say documentary photography should always be done in projects, how true is this? It is not always true. You may come across something that is out of your plan but worthy of preservation during your assignment. Like me, I know my plan in the documentary is to document our culture and traditions in the northern part of Nigeria but once on a visit to the Niger Republic for an assignment, their cultural festival I witnessed caught my attention so I documented it.
What is the essence of documentary photography to you? Knowing and preserving the culture and traditions of my people.
What will you say now is your documentary photography voice? What sayest thou? I want to show humanness and lifestyle to people.
Is it a profitable venture? Yes, how I can make a profit from it? Yes, it’s. I often get interesting media agencies to commission me for assignments. It is financially viable but not like wedding Photography its profiting can be long term. For example, I am complying with a book of what I am are doing which I hope to print and sell later.
I get satisfaction whenever something is needed by an agency or persons from my completed or ongoing projects.
Last words to those in and those who will enter in? Be clear about this, documentary photography is not like wedding photography in that you will get money easily, you will have to spend your money but the investment will eventually come if you do not give up.
Sani Maikantanga is Freelance Documentary Photojournalist based in Kano State, Nigeria. He can be reached via HIS INSTAGRAM.