DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY…..has it lost its way?

Documentary, early 1900s.

Documentary photography was that to access uninhibited areas to bring exclusive access to the public about events and peoples goings on. Photographers would go out and take photos of the cities in crisis, ways to memorise the events that have happened in the world and to record what has happened for future reference of generations to come.

Original documentary photography recorded some of the world’s greatest and worst times of history. Photographers captured moments such as Kennedys shooting, The Great Depression, WW1 and WW2, Marilyn Monroe, First man on the Moon etc. With this photographers became famous and had a positive reputation when photographing and seeing their works published. Over time we have seen some of the world’s best documentary photographers such as Dorothea Lange, Sebastian Salgado, Jacob Reis, Lewis Hine and many more….if you have not seen their works then check them out on my best friend Google! They have some amazing shots.

Yes the photographers got paid for some of their works, most of which was volunteer work on their part which they did not get paid for. They did it out of the kindness of their heart, and because they wanted to inform the world of what they have witnessed.

When did photography develop into such a crude and horrid medium for famous faces and world events? Why did people think it was okay to change the way documentation was looked upon to twist it into a mind numbing horror movie for celebs and families?

Paparazzi, 20th Century.

Paparazzi or “Paps” for short are people with cameras going around celeb places such as Hollywood, Miami etc to get celebs mainly at their worst. They capture celebs, public figures, families of those in unflattering and candid lighting to expose to the public for entertainment. However media as well highlight the “good” of paps being people who document events such as the BAFTAs and the Golden Globes etc.

They make lot of money from these photographs due to magazines and different types of media wanting a good shocking story that will make their publication sell more than any competition. There is a growing phenomenon with pap photography, mainly for the high pay and celeb interaction that is a “perk” of the job. So you want lots of money? Go expose some poor happy person’s life who has an acting career or is an artist and expose all the bad things to make you feel good about the big fat cheque that is going to go into your bank account…..see the photograph mediated across loads of publications yet still come out with no fame in yourself. If you want to do pap photography then you are seriously wasting your time, you are already sucked into the forbidden depths of the media that thus implant perfection images and scandal in your everyday life so that you have something more to talk about at that book reading you have or mothers meeting. It’s really NOT worth destroying someone’s life to satisfy your own.

Celeb feelings are tarnished as paps invade personal space when taking the photographs and personal lives too. Well known celebs get photographed with children at day events, when they go in or leave coffee shops, smoking, basically everything you can think have they got photographed doing. If paps were aloud on house ground then im sure in next week’s magazines we would see someone such as Katie Price on the toilet peeing.

Now due to people complaining that paps are a nuisance they have a curfew to abide by when snapping celebs

Photographers that take these scandalous and prerogative photographs do not have a reputation or a name. The only time they get a name is when celebs flip out and go nuts at them. An example of this, which I am sure you will all remember, was when Jay Kay hit the pap photographer for shouting abuse at him so that he could get a decent photograph after Jay Kay had been on a night out in a club.

Now don’t get me wrong I understand people need to make a living and this business with celebs worlds and lives is very high paying, however, I just do not think it is needed to invade someone’s personal life for money. For instance do the scam artists look at it from the other persons point of view? How would they like it if they had someone following there every move and trying to get a photograph of you at your worst in the morning when you have bed hair and your breath smells like ass…..

On the contrary to all of this is the type of photography, we cannot expect Paps to last for the rest of time. Now in the modern world we have world-wide incited to social networking and blogging etc. Take Twitter for example; this site is swamped with celebrities and “tweeting” is what they are up to or have done, general thoughts etc. So with this type of social interaction with celebs does this mean there is no need for the generation of Paps? Are we getting to engulfed in the internet and what we can access celebs will be a “normal” person and post up home photographs, thoughts, writings, ideas, emotions, artwork etc? Now a days with all that is available to the general public there is no real need to go and drag your sorry ass to the shop to buy the sadly printed newspaper that hangs limp from the stand willing for someone to buy it. All you need is the shiny new computer/mobile or laptop that screams at you “I’m happy look at me” every morning when you wake up and all the news you need is in your bony housebound lap.

Comments with your views on this topic would be great.



2 responses to “DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY…..has it lost its way?

  1. Interesting post! I agree, celebrity photography and obsession is something I will simply never understand. Thankfully, there are still many modern day photographers doing similar work to that you’ve described of the American documentary photographers from the 1920s-70s. Photography is certainly more accessible, which I think in itself is great, though it means that its uses have broadened (celebrity portraiture and celebrity street photographer are examples). But I don’t personally see photography as having lost what you describe as qualities of American documentary photography in the 20th century. 🙂

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