Documentary Photography: Chronicling Social Changes
Your Lens on the WorldSo, you’ve decided to take on the noble endeavor of documenting the world around you through the power of photography. Congratulations! You’ve chosen one of the most effective ways to make people feel guilty about their comfortable lives while simultaneously giving them something interesting to look at for a few seconds before moving on with their lives. With the right image, you can even make the cover of Time magazine, only to be outdone by a side article about the 10 best memes from 2021.
Choosing Your Subject: No More Cute CatsYou’ve taken enough pictures of your cat doing that thing where it pretends to be Batman. It’s time to step up to the big leagues and focus on a subject that matters. Look for a pressing social issue that everyone talks about but no one does anything to solve. If you pick a subject that everyone can agree is terrible, you can raise awareness without alienating anyone with your opinions. You get the praise for shining a light on a problem, and then promptly forget about it as soon as you move on to your next project.
Defining Your Style: Not Just for HipstersNow that you’ve chosen what to photograph, it’s time to figure out how to do it in a way that will make people think you’re deep and artistic. There are a few ways to go about this. You can take the traditional route and stick to black and white photos. This will make your images look timeless, somber, and – most importantly – artsy. Alternatively, you can use vibrant colors and unique framing to make your photos stand out. This is a good option if you want to show people that you’re a creative genius who’s not like all those other boring documentary photographers.
Getting the Shot: Earn Your War Correspondent BadgeNow that you have your subject and style, it’s time to get out in the field and start taking photos. Here’s where things get real. You’re going to have to get up close and personal with your subjects to make an impact. You may have to put yourself in uncomfortable situations to get the perfect shot.Think you’re too shy to ask strangers to take their picture? Toughen up, buttercup. That lady living on the streets isn’t going to photograph herself. And don’t forget to use your artistic eye to make sure you capture the scene in a way that will make your audience weep tears of empathy (or at least feel bad enough to share your photo on Facebook).
Editing Your Work: Photoshop is Your FriendAfter you’ve captured the raw and gritty reality of your subject, it’s time to make it look pretty – or at least interesting enough to make people want to look at it. Luckily for you, there’s a magical tool called Photoshop that can turn even the most mundane image into a work of art. Use it wisely. A little touch-up here and there can enhance your photo, but overdoing it can make it look like you’re trying too hard.
Sharing Your Work: Watch Out, World!Now comes the most important part: sharing your work with the world. This is where you get to feel like a true artist, basking in the adoration of your fans as they shower you with praise for your groundbreaking photos that have changed their lives – or at least their Instagram feeds.
- Submit your photos to galleries and publications. They might not know they need your work yet, but how will they ever find out if you don’t submit it?
- Create a website or blog showcasing your work. Make sure to include a pretentious artist statement that no one will actually read, but will make you sound like you’re very serious about your craft.
- Share your photos on social media. Be prepared for people to like, comment, and share your work – or for people to completely ignore it and keep scrolling through pictures of their friends’ babies. You never know.
- Enter photography contests. This is where you have the chance to prove you’re the best of the best – or at least better than that guy who only takes pictures of sunsets.
The End Result: Your Impact on the WorldSo, you’ve done it. You’ve chronicled social changes through documentary photography and made your mark on the world. Your photos have been shared, liked, and praised, and you’ve basked in the glory of your artistic genius. Now what? Well, it’s time to move on to the next project, of course! The world is constantly changing, and there’s always something new to document. Plus, you need to stay relevant if you want to keep up with all the other photographers who are doing the exact same thing you are.So go forth, intrepid photographer, and capture the world through your lens. Who knows what social change you might inspire – or at least what interesting photos you’ll have to show for it.