The concept document is usually associated with some type of writing with which it is intended to communicate something. However, photography allows telling facts or events, so it is possible to talk about documentary photography.
The fundamental idea of documentary photography
We can explain reality in many ways: with a naturalistic-style painting, with a descriptive narrative, through symbols or images. In this sense, the image of a photograph allows us to tell something, be it a story, a moment, a state of mind or any event that deserves to be informed.
Street photography, documentary photography and photojournalism
When a person , completely spontaneously, takes a picture of something they see on the street, we can speak of street photography. On the other hand, when a photographer intends to capture certain images related to something, in this case it is a documentary photograph. Consequently, the difference between one and the other depends on the photographer’s intention.
If at the time of taking the photograph something unexpected occurs of a certain social interest , it is photojournalism. This means that a documentary-type photo can become a newsworthy photo.
In specialized terminology, the concept of documentary photography is equivalent to others, such as testimonial photography or socio-documentary photography. Regardless of the term used, it is about capturing images that are of interest to society as a whole.
A way to generate social awareness
It is often heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. The truth of this statement is evident, as a simple image can convey complex ideas that require extensive descriptions or dissertations. In this sense, documentary photography serves to denounce all kinds of situations. In other words, this branch of photography is an effective weapon for generating social awareness .
The social consciousness can have multiple purposes: to denounce injustices, causing changes in the mindset of people or just try a better understanding of a phenomenon of some complexity.
The professional who is dedicated to this area logically has a very personal perspective. Consequently, it is not entirely objective when capturing images. Despite this, you can count on something with an honest attitude. We must take into account that photography never expresses the true authenticity of something, as it is an interpretation of reality.