I have been engaged in documentary photography since the age of 16 when I began working for the yearbook at my high school. I didn’t call it documentary photography then. I didn’t know what to call it. I knew I enjoyed capturing (didn’t use that verb, either) the lives of my fellow students. I knew that those days would end, and we would all later look back. My photos would be the window back to our youth for all of us.
The picture above shows the girls basketball team moments after winning the state championship. It does what documentary photography is supposed to do. Capture a moment in time — especially a human moment (and, if really good, the decisive moment) — such that it lives beyond the immediate news of the thing. The rhythm of their bodies, the raised finger — one for all — the joy on Carol’s face — this is what it means to win a championship in 1975 in Wilmington, Delaware. It’s also what it means to win, period. This photo has remained in my portfolio since high school.
A less dramatic moment is the photo of an unassuming Banksy, still undisturbed on the streets of London in 2019. Life goes on around it. By some measures (that I agree with) it is a work of art. But it is art of a particular sort. It the kind of art that life goes on around.
I’m planning to be more intentional about my documentary photography. I’m not sure what that means yet. Stay tuned. Also, please follow my new documentary film and photography account on Instagram.