Sun, 18 November 2012
Just what is a documentary photograph?
Like most of you listening to this podcast, I have my own definition of what it is, but I've never delved much deeper than my own ideas and preconceptions. I had a sense of what worked for me and that was enough.
That's a dangerous road, don't you agree?
It's dangerous because it brings with it the risk of having a blinkered vision. Blinkered vision is something we cannot afford as documentary photographers.
In this episode of the podcast, I have the privilege of speaking with Jonathon Keats. Jonathon is a deep thinker, an artist and and philosopher, a photographer too. He writes for Forbes and reached out to me via email after episode 10 of the podcast aired.
In his email, he highlighted a recent Forbes article in which he discusses the work of Bernice Abbott, in particular her photographs illustrating scientific concepts through photography, and wondered whether they were documentary.
A simple question.
But a complicated answer.
Pondering Jonathon's question made me realize that while I have my own definition of documentary photography, it wasn't perhaps deep or nuanced enough. It was time to explore the concept in a conversation. And with whom better than Jonathon himself?