Documentary/Street Photography- Where My Work Stands

After researching about documentary and street photography I am now going to look through my own work and see where I stand within the photographic field and the two genres.

I initially became interested in these genres when doing a university project on homeless people. Initially I was planning on documenting the people and their lives, however through the development process of the project I became interested in the idea of shelters and what homeless people use to survive. To start this development I feel I used a more street photography approach, roaming the street for interesting photographs either of homeless people or their lifestyle; I had no definite agenda, I was open minded and just wanted to capture interesting photographs. As my project developed I feel I moved into a more documentary approach, going out on purpose to document the areas homeless people live in and the objects and items they use to survive. This project saw me use both genres of photography showing that as a photographer I can use and partake in both types of photography.

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For my next university project I looked at agriculture and how agriculture affects the landscape. For this project I went out with the aim of photographing and documenting these effects on the land, and the land use of agriculture. I would class myself as a documentary photographer for this project, I wanted to show and inform the viewer about agriculture. From the very beginning of the project I took a documentary approach and not one of a street photographer.


Over the summer I had the privilege of visiting a abandoned mental asylum; for these photographs I feel I took both a documentary and street approach. I wanted to document the building and the effect time has had on the structure and belongings inside, however I also didn’t go out just to capture one thing such as the rooms or the rubble. I spent time walking around looking for good photo opportunities, keeping an open mind and snapping what I thought would make a good photograph, for these reasons I think I had some ‘street’ in my photographs. I looked for interesting light or textures, something that would make my photograph visually interesting.

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When on holiday in Barcelona, I spent time walking around the street looking at the inhabitants and tourists, photographing as I went. For these photographs I feel I was a street photographer, I wanted to show people in their own environment and daily lives. My photographs feature subjects in candid situations, images that intrigue me, these images were not planned, they were spontaneous. I wanted to show the culture of Barcelona and its inhabitants, look at relationships between strangers or between people and their surroundings, all unposed.

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In conclusion I feel that when it comes to my own photography and the work of other photographers, categorising one photographer into one genre can be hard and often silly as many photographs could be seen as to have qualities from both genres. There will be photographers who only partake in one of the genres but there will also be others who dip into both. We should spend less time bogged down trying to categorise photographs, instead spend that time appreciating the work and trying to understand what they photographer is trying to tell their audience.


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