A Photographer’s Guide to Documentary Photography

A Photographer’s Guide to Documentary Photography

Written by Nasrul Eam

With photography, we capture the essence of freedom with authenticity, by preserving the moment in inhuman time. We can traverse back in time and meet a World War I veteran or go on a spiritual journey to the most serene mosque. We may visit a refugee camp, where life suddenly stands still, or join a peaceful demonstration for Gaza to stop the sorrow and pain of her people. We may perhaps just overlook them and fly over the Detroit River, or enjoy the century-old Tower Bridge on the river Thames. We can simply take a journey through the corridor of passion that leads us to the Far East, Beijing then to Niseko, Japan, down to the land of Thousand Islands, then to the deserts of Africa, the mediaeval villages in Indian subcontinent, where they still use the ancient technique for cultivation. Despite the variety of locations, there is a common theme in photography, capturing a moment in time.

From a village in an unexplored territory to the war zone, there are always moments to be documented. It is the “documentation of time” that has changed the way we see and understand the world around us, a kind of encyclopedic desire to record the world, which gave birth to documentary, as well as street, candid, and portrait forms of photography from perspectives that had never seen before. With this guide, we will discover what documentary photography really is, to show things that cannot be spoken of. This is a guide that every photographer should study to understand its essence, which the medium of photography offers.

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