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Documentary photography - Essay Example

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Documentary Photography After World War II, photographs were used as a medium in expressing concern as well as to arouse empathy from the public. These pictures took root in the 19th century and gained momentum in the 20th century (Abbott, 2010). One of the known magazines that has been employing this genre is Life Magazine…
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Download file to see previous pages Documentary photography belongs to a field in photography that utilizes pictures to portray historical information. Visual evidences are employed to document specific events. Instead of purely aesthetic purposes, this school of photography delves into the various social and political issues of the subjects. According to Rothstein, “The subject matter of documentary photography is unlimited, but not every photograph is documentary. It should convey a message that sets it apart from a landscape, a portrait, or a street scene” (1986, p.19). Most of the time, the pictures evoke emotions of anger, intrigue, and shock. A number of magazines and newspapers capitalize on these visuals to communicate their respective stories. These images are ideal in moving people’s thoughts and actions. Hence, documentary photographers act like eyewitnesses for the general public. They engage other people with social issues through the evidences of their photos. They capture their reflections of the messages in different communities for people to see. The photographer’s skills to combine art, journalism, and education are needed in producing valuable results. These records of diplomatic and collective situations aim to pave way for social change. One of the famous 20th century photographers in this area is Paul Strand. He uncovered the potential of photography as forceful vehicles. He is known for his works’ ardor, clarity, and sophistication (Strand, 2009) . His work covered different kinds of locations in Africa, Europe, and of course, his homeland, America. Unmistakably, his interest consisted of various themes and categories over the years. He was a student of Lewis Hine, a renowned documentary photographer. Later, he was introduced to Steiglitz and Steichen, operators of the 291 gallery. After sometime, Strand’s works were featured in Steiglitz’ photography publication called Camera work. Many of Strand’s work were also exhibited in the gallery. Much of his famous pictures were on the geometric structures of the city life. His images eventually won prizes at the Wanamaker Photography competitions. In his book, Masters of Photography, Strand featured a number of his photos. Some of the notable photographs are “Blind Woman, New York” and “Yawning Woman” (2009). In 1916, his photo of a blind woman highlighted a realistic theme. This image depicts his excellent skill in taking photos without the subject’s knowledge. The photo shows a head-and-shoulder portrait of a woman wearing a sign, “blind”. This effectively represents one of the diverse minority groups during his time. It challenged the society’s stand on equality, labeling, and rights for individuals with special needs. His other striking photo of a yawning woman was taken in 1917. This candid photo shows a portly female resting at the sidewalk of New York. Similar with his previous work, it demonstrates a pure image of daily life in an urban area. It illustrates New York and the distinct characters that occupy it. Pictorialism Pictorialism views photography as an avenue for embodying fine art. In this angle, a picture’s aesthetic essence is quite emphasized. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, it is “an approach to photography that emphasizes the beauty of subject matter, tonality, and composition rather than the documentation of reality” ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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