Project: Early Social Documentary

Exercise: This is Where I Live

First, with a compact camera set at a fixed focal length, make as many images as you feel necessary to document the area local to where you live.  Second, try to think like a viewer 100 years from now and take 12 of the images you’ve just made that show the area, warts and all.  Write around 250 words reviewing your images in your blog and decide to what extent you’ve managed to show the ‘truth’ about the area. Third, using your DSLR re-visit the same locations and this time apply a craft approach.  Produce a set of images that show the area at its best or most intriguing.  Review this second set of images and consider the role of the social documentary photographer.  Is it possible to create a false impression? When we look at the work of documentary photographers do we believe what we see?  Is integrity therefore an issue for the social documentary photographer?

Answer these questions and support your argument using your own images as evidence in your learning blog.

Although the brief is to make images that could be reviewed by a local resident in 100 years time, for them to gain a flavour of what the scenes were like in our day, the chances of any modern building still standing in 100 years time is pretty remote due to the fact that they have a limited designed lifespan of much less than those buildings from previous centuries, and so their probable ground location will perhaps be lost too as developers change the layout of our towns and cities.  My intention therefore is to make images of street scenes which can be made from slightly different angles and viewpoints to show that images can be manipulated to show a scene in a different light, dependent upon the photographers agenda and therefore bring into doubt the ‘truth’ of what exactly the photograph shows.

The first action I needed to take was to plan where I was going to make the scenes I needed to fulfill my brief.  These needed to be places where with the inclusion or exclusion of a part within the image would provide a different interpretation of how pleasant it could be to see that area.


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