I think the question of whether something is or is not art is a bit disingenuous, and can be used more as a tool for gatekeeping than true analysis or critique. There is no objective standard for what makes something enjoyable as a piece of art, whether that is a photograph, music, sculpture, or a blade of grass in a field. However when it comes to the deliberate creation of an artefact I think that the intention of the creator is very powerful, and can offer some strong insight into the way that work can be interpreted.
We have discussed several times why shooting only with one lens can be a good call. And no matter the genre you shoot, you can benefit from using only one lens. In this video from Advancing Your Photography, documentary photographer Daniel Milnor will share three reasons why you should use only one lens if you’re shooting documentary photography.
There is a particular obstacle that stands in the way of almost all travel, documentary and cultural photographers alike and, for some reason, no one seems to be willing to talk about it – so I’m going to.
The way I see it, that obstacle could be best described as ‘Misconception’. No matter how hard I try to prepare for what may lay ahead in my photography projects, it never ceases to amaze me how much of a difference there is between what I think I’m going to find and what is really out there. So many times places I thought would be completely isolated from the outside world were overrun by travelers, and cultures I thought would be extremely protective of their arts turned out to be some of the most hospitable and welcoming people I ever met. My last photography journey in Ethiopia was a perfect example of just how these misconceptions can affect a photography project.
Whether you’re for or against smartphone filmmaking, you can’t deny that some creators make the best out of camera phones. On its YouTube channel, Apple has recently published a wonderful short documentary shot entirely on iPhone XS. It tells a story of Japan’s “decotora” or “decoration trucks” and it was shot by Jiro Konami.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I’s end, a documentary titled They Shall Not Grow Old has been released. Directed and produced by Peter Jackson, it contains footage you have never seen before, restored and colorized to add a new dimension to these striking shots.
In this video by BBC, you can hear about the painstaking process the crew went through and what it took to colorize the shots and create this amazing documentary.
It’s one of those things that nature photographers and filmmakers struggle with. When to intervene in the natural course of events. Typically, most don’t intervene, especially when they’re there in a straight documentary capacity. Humankind has interfered with wildlife enough already.
Sometimes, though, it just feels like the right thing to do, as this wildlife documentary crew for BBC Dynasties decided.
A walk on the trash mountains
My eyes are filled with tears, because of the smoke. The plastic-particles in the air are itching in my lungs. I am climbing this mountain with my two friends. The ground under my shoes feels funny. It softly cushions my steps, like fresh and loose soil, but I also tangle my feet every now and then. It is an awkward mass, this mountain of pressed trash. It consists of very different material and yet is an entity. A mountain of poison. Not only for the body, but also for the soul. And everywhere pigs! I think I have never seen so many pigs walking freely in the wild. Is that appropriate husbandry? I somehow start to understand, why some religions do resist to eat pork. If, by eating pigs, I eat what pigs ate, then abandoning might be a better choice.
In a recent statement, the BBC admitted that one of their documentary series isn’t entirely documentary after all. Some of the scenes from their 2011 series Human Planet were admittedly staged by the creators.
In an episode about the Korowai people of Papua New Guinea, the tribe members were filmed while moving into a treehouse. However, while shooting a new documentary series, the members of the tribe admitted that “they built the treehouses for the benefit of overseas programme makers.”
When Mehrdad Oskouei, a well known Iranian filmmaker, was planning to produce his last film Starless Dreams he asked one of his former students, Sadegh Souri, a photographer and a cinematographer to join his crew as a camera operator.
Starless Dreams is a compelling social documentary about the lives of teenage girls in a juvenile correctional facility on the outskirts of Tehran, Iran. Some of the girls come from a broken layer of society with families struggling with drugs, crimes, and even murder. Distributed internationally, the film has received exceptional reviews.