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Thread: photography

  1. #11

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    photography

    More simply put: Documentary photography chronicles the general conditions of a particular time and place without necessarily recording specific events. Journalistic photography illustrates specific events or historical moments (in terms of a photo essay).
    Michael W. Graves
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  2. #12

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    Hmm. And what about if you document something for publication? What is the "fundamental difference" between published music and sacred music?

  3. #13

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    Intent. Or more precisely, the intent of the person or agency that makes the image or work available to an audience. The context in which an image or work is used colours the perception of why it was made.

  4. #14
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    photography

    "The chief aim of editorial photography is to illustrate something for publication. The chief aim of documentary photography is to document something. Sometimes the two aims coincide and sometimes they don't."

    What John said.

    On top of this, there are a lot of subtle twists on how work conforms and doesn't conform to these definitions. And also in the nature of both kinds of work to their eventual perceived meaning.

    Some questions to think about: in editorial photography, who actually determines what the photo essay means ... the photographer or the editor?

    And what are the connections between the documentary tradition and propaganda?

  5. #15
    Moderator Ralph Barker's Avatar
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    photography

    While I agree with the basic aspect of John B.'s statement, I'd add that the "something" that the documentary documents is typically something that is deemed to have social significance. But, I don't think the fact that documentary photographs may be published in combination with a magazine article or book about the "something" shifts the classification to editorial, even though the assignment may have been made on editorial grounds.

    In keeping with the fact that editorial photography is "illustrative", the "meaning" will be determined by the editorial context and the words of the article the images are used to illustrate. Bear in mind, however, that editorial work for a fashion magazine, for example, will differ substantially from editorial images done for "Fine Woodworking". Similarly, the usage context of a documentary series could easily shift the work to being propaganda, irrespective of the photographer's original intent for the work.

  6. #16

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    "Bear in mind, however, that editorial work for a fashion magazine, for example, will differ substantially from editorial images done for Fine Woodworking". That's what I call "fundamental differences"!

  7. #17
    Scott Davis
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    I'd reiterate what has been said before here- in some ways it is a hair-splitting difference, but a not insignificant one. Documentary is done with an overt social/political intent, and editorial has an overt commercial intent. This is not to say that work classified as one cannot have a crossover into the other. One could do a documentary on, for example, a dying art/craft/business for some corporation that is supporting the effort to preserve it - Corning could commission a documentary on traditional glassblowing techniques and how they are being lost as an art, which would cover the social requirement, but it would cross over into editorial when it showed how Corning was supporting the revival/preservation of such arts (Disclaimer - this is a made-up example which I have absolutely no knowledge of the existence or truth of whatsoever. It's just a plausible example).

  8. #18

    photography

    I think John Kasaian had it closest if you're talking about photojournalism.

    Documentary would refer to images objectively documenting the facts of a given object or event, analogous to impartial reporting.

    Editorial photography would refer to images inherently suggesting a position on one side or another of an issue, and may include some manipulation of the image. This would be analogous to editorial writing on the opinion page.

    As to the original question, "Who decides the categorie that a photograph should fall into? Is it the photographer, the audience, the publisher or the critic," the photographer decides what and how to shoot, a photo editor often chooses on photograph from among many, a section editor approves and decides whether it will run, but ultimately, the audience is the critic, and decides for themselves whether the photograph offers objective information or depicts the subject in favorable or unfavorable light. (Of course, most of the audience is rather stupid, and will simply be subliminally influenced by even an overtly editorial image or writing.)

    I'tss worth noting that the Bush Whitejhouse has pushed editorializing the photo-op to new heights, as with the now-infamous aircraft carrier photographs with the "Mission Accomplished" banner, and the carrier sailing in circles waiting for the prez to fly in in his flight suit to proclaim victory with the right audience and the right scenery in the background and American flags all around. Many such events are so heavily staged that the even most objective and talented photographer cannot make a truly objective image.
    It's

  9. #19
    Andy Eads
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    Raymond, Follow the lawsuits. There have been several notable suits filed over the distinctions. A good place to start your research is PDN magazine. Serving both kinds of photographers, they track who is suing whom and who won. Another souce might be ASMP. Lots of luck!

  10. #20

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    "Editorial" photography usually focuses on immediately newsworthy events and usually is intended for publication. There is rarely any in-depth long term coverage of an event, issue or personss, and there is usually a client in mind when the photographer is working. Also the photography itself tends more towards being a illustration of something that is happening and is emotionallly and graphically "hotter".

    "documentary" photography tends to be projects that are longer in scope of time less defined and less targeted towards getting published in a magazine or newspare. the ideas covered are generally deeper and more sociological than short term event focused.

    There is some overlap.

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