I took a Documentary Photography class at UC Berkeley Art School a few months back. It was the first experience I’ve had of sharing and discussing mine and others’ photographs in a group setting. It was super inspiring to meet other amateur photographers, and to see the world through their lens’.
One thing that I really learned from it was that there is a large variety in the ‘documentary’ genre of photography. There is photojournalism, where typically one or two stunning powerful images will be chosen to represent an event. There is visual storytelling which may lead the viewer through a set of images in a specific order, developing on a message or theme. There is even documentary film.
And then there is working in a series. This means taking multiple images, all of which add different layers of knowing to whatever you are photographing. In my mind working in a series / with photo-essays can allow a unique way to enter the narrative and appropriate the information given.
The interesting thing about photography is that meaning is generated by all of the parties involved. The photographer ultimately decides what to capture and what to display. She/He may have a specific intention or may stumble upon interesting imagery. The subject or content will be implicit of or associated with other familiar imagery. And the viewer decides how to direct their eyes, how long to pay attention, and brings their own individual perspective which influences what inferences they make.
In this method there is often less of a specific story told, or less of a dramatic impact than one singular image can offer. But in the hopes to capture the essence of something and invite others to understand a piece of it and to connect with it, I think working in a series is an interesting approach.
So this is what I’m mainly going to be doing photography-wise with this blog. I do like taking aesthetically pleasing photographs also, and I may post some up here as singular images if it ever feels appropriate to what I’m trying to communicate. But in general I am experimenting with this whole working in a series thing.
*PS: The template I am using for this blog organises it so that images come before words if I ever post photographs. At first I was confused by not being able to change this so you could read about the images first. However I actually prefer it organised the way it is, so that you look at the photographs first without any input from me (except for the title), and afterwards you engage with the text I’ve decided to write. This way your interpretations are mainly your own and you are adding meaning to the photographs simply by having your individual thoughts about them.*