By means of starting a Documentary project one actually tells a story in a picture format to the broadcast media. The Photojournalist is a person who should be brilliant in Timeliness, objectivity and the way of Narration. This article shows you some important elements for you to pin on, if you are about to start a project on documentary. We hope these key points will definitely show some light for you to understand what Documentary or Photojournalism is all about. We have highlighted the efforts and sincerity the Masters have put on, what to learn from them and how to choose your project carefully and more willingly.

Learn from the Masters

Knowing what the greats have done in Photo Journalism. The Moments they have produced are the changes they have brought to lives of many. This can inspire you to take up more responsibility and sensitive issues. Studying the masters, the way they have shot the subjects, handled the light, composed the picture can teach you many secrets. It is always better to know the best even before starting something good. Those extreme conditions they encountered the struggles their commitment can help you learn what Photo Journalism is there to offer. The Photos of Masters serves itself as a material to understand the technical qualities in addition to the basics of composition, and attributes of documentary & photojournalism.

Somalia, 1992 by James Nachtwey
Somalia, 1992 by James Nachtwey

Choosing the Project

What you need to shoot depends a lot on what you wish to change. The Agony, Pain, Joy of Living, Happiness and many more. It all depends on choosing a story. Take a closer look on the daily happenings around your place, slowly increase the radius and keep up the vision. Photo Journalism doesn’t work as an assignment; it has to provoke involvement from both the ends. Try to pick a story which happens for a larger span of time. This helps you to visit the site frequently. Helping to get some versatility in your shots. Adding to it never mix n match Documentary photography (DP) and Photojournalism (PJ). The former relates to projects with longer time period, whereas the latter is about the breaking news in daily life.

Bhopal Gas Tragedy by Raghu Rai
Bhopal Gas Tragedy by Raghu Rai

Knowing the Environment

Considering you already chose the Project/Story. Add some paper work about the location, survey it, knowing to get in and get out, the weather conditions. Photojournalism is about wear & tear. Be prepared to make use of the environment, gather information at all means, try to gain some trust and maintain a good relationship with the subjects and locals. Documenting people struggle can be an immense pressure, your smile can be boosting for them as well. Do not try to over shadow yourself as a photojournalist, keep it simple. this can help you to gain trust from them. In turn we get better pictures. Deal.

Vietnam at Peace by Philip Jones Griffiths
Vietnam at Peace by Philip Jones Griffiths

Look for some Action

Working individually has its own benefits. Observe the location better, open up your senses, look for some action. Do not be the third person while documenting. Try to be as close as possible, the closer you get better the opportunities and better the pictures. Freezing an action may not be pleasing in documentary photography. Blur is good; it makes the picture a verb. Learn to compose the picture on the scene; do not dwell upon the crop tool. Use a wide lens, it captures more of the scene rather than a close-up shot of the victims/people. Practicing this can help you become a pro in a short span of time. The least said be truthful, do not over exaggerate an ordinary scene, since we all know photography is a very powerful medium.

Western Railroad Line by Sebastiao Salgado
Western Railroad Line by Sebastiao Salgado

Presentation

How do you want to present those compelling pictures you have shot. Choose the right medium may it be black & white or color. As professionals say analyzing the scene is 1/3rd, pressing the shutter is 1/3rd and presenting it in the right way is the remaining 1/3rd. Try to maintain an uniformity in tones and color, to make one feel it as one series. Make sure your processing doesn’t take away anything from the picture, Keep it simple and minimal. Show them what you visioned and witnessed. Publishing it as a book, showing it up in a gallery can reach millions. Not to forget about the internet media today, one can sense the pulse instantly.

Koudelka: Gypsies by Josef Koudelka
Gypsies by Josef Koudelka

Some Examples of Documentary Projects

Here we are giving some examples for your idea. You can check how these photographers work on that particular project including the write up of the project, titles for photos, everything. Please click on the image to view full Documentary Project.

The Julie Project by Dancy Padilla

The Julie Project by Dancy Padilla

Cyclone Survivors by GMB Akash

Cyclone Survivors by GMB Akash

Congo – Rape of a Nation by Marcus Bleasdale

Congo – Rape of a Nation by Marcus Bleasdale

Kushti Wrestling by Ami Vitale

Kushti Wrestling by Ami Vitale

A Weapon of War by Jodi Bieber

A Weapon of War by Jodi Bieber

Libyan Revolution 2011 by Mads Nissen

Libyan Revolution 2011

Sudan Famine by Radhika Chalasani

Sudan Famine by Radhika Chalasani

A Window Inside by Lana Slezic

A Window Inside by Lana Slezic

Life in Brothel by Shiho Fukada

Life in Brothel Shiho Fukada

African Children in Prison by Fernando Moleres

African Children in Prison by Fernando Moleres

Kindly remember Documentary photography or Photojournalism is not about getting your work published. With those pictures, bring a change to their lives; those sufferings you captured shouldn’t exist once those pictures are published.

Copyrights:
All images displayed are protected by copyright. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.

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