Documentary Photographers share their experiences

10 Photographers on what inspires them to document stories

I asked some of the photographers who have been interviewed in the Documentary Photography Review podcasts to share their thoughts and experiences in response to a series of 12 questions. (You can read the responses to last week’s question, and sign up to the DPR newsletter to be kept informed of future articles.)

This week – the third week in this series of articles – I ask:

Who or what has inspired you most to document stories?

[divider]Lewis Bush [/divider]

There are too many to list – for one my teachers and tutors at university who made me hungry to know all I could about the world, and gave me some of the tools to satisfy that hunger.

Lewis Bush
I shoot, write, talk, curate, and teach about photography, journalism, history and art. Lecturer at the London College of Communication and run the Disphotic blog

[divider]Cinzia D’Ambrosi [/divider]

I cannot remember what inspired me the most in wanting to document stories because I cannot recall wishing to do anything else.  However, my first photo story happened by a chance meeting. As a young teenager I met some young people who I started to converse with. This was in South of Italy in a small town in Campania. As was common then, I was invited to their home. When I arrived, to my astonishment, their home was not a home! Their homes were corrugated iron sheds, in which they had lived for many years – ever since the earthquake struck in the 80s.

I got to know them and that’s how my very first photo story began. Years later, a talk by photojournalist Marcus Bleasdale in London was a great inspiration for me. The fact that he does work with the intent of collaborating with NGOs, actively seeking attention from those in a power position that can modify/change legislation, etc. has been a true role-model for me. I totally work with the same intent in mind.

But to go back to Bleasdale’s talk. I was researching around the issue of women and war and was planning to go to Kosovo but I had many doubts in my mind about how to go about it, etc. During the talk, Marcus encouraged photographers to contact NGOs before entering any difficult areas as a measure of security but also as a means to work more closely with a charity that one cares for their work. This inspired me greatly but also unleashed a certain drive.  I felt like I was being patted on my shoulder! I contacted Medicos del Mundo Spain and went to work in Kosovo and Bosnia Herzegovina.

Cinzia D'Ambrosi
Photojournalist and documentary photographer. My photography work is motivated by my desire to investigate, expose and stimulate public response seeking the potentials to change a path, to modify a legislation, to tell a story otherwise untold.

[divider]Jonathan Goldberg [/divider]

Other photographers both well established and not. Martin Parr, Mark Power, Egglestone to name a few.

Jonathan Goldberg
I am a London-based portrait and documentary and documentary photographer with 20 years of experience. In between my regular portrait and documentary commissions I undertake personal projects relating to issues that I'm passionate about.

[divider]Ingrid Guyon [/divider]

Watching documentaries about native indians in the Amazon when I was a child, I was fascinated by hearing their stories and got tired of reading anthropologist books when I studied Anthropology – I wanted to hear people’s voices instead, to know how they wanted to be represented themselves.

I’ve always been annoyed by mainstream media stereotyping, lies and manipulation. I guess what inspired me to tell stories are the ‘non-contaminated’, ‘non-brainwashed’ humans beings.

Ingrid Guyon
I have lived and worked as a photographer, community worker and photography facilitator in London since 2001 and graduated at the London College of Communication and Social Anthropology in 2006.

[divider]Eduardo Leal [/divider]

First was my grandfather, who was a devoted amateur photographer and a great storyteller. Later on the work by photographers such as Sebastião Salgado, W. Eugene Smith, Eugene Richards, James Nachtwey and Marcus Bleasdale.

Eduardo Leal
Eduardo Leal is a Portuguese freelance documentary photographer focusing on Latin America social issues and politics and Portuguese traditions.

[divider]Claudia Leisinger [/divider]

I am driven by my curiosity to understand the world around me. Stories make sense to me.

Claudia Leisinger
At present I work as freelance portrait and documentary photographer, based in London. I have had my photos published in the Guardian, the Telegraph Magazine, the Big Issue, the NZZ newspaper and the Foto8 website, amongst others.

[divider]Tim Mitchell [/divider]

The social sciences, non-fiction prose and novel writers have inspired me the most. Also, and possibly most importantly, the individuals I have met have inspired me. Everyone is extraordinary.

Tim Mitchell
Tim works as a photographer, artist and educator taking on photographic commissions, workshops and teaching within the UK. Often working collaboratively, his projects document our relationship with our surroundings.

[divider]Hannah Mornement[/divider]

My family history and stories of inequality.

Hannah Mornement
Originally a painter, Hannah Mornement is now a freelance documentary and reportage photographer, currently based in Brighton. Hannah has focused on people, places and humanitarian issues and has had over 10 years experience within the humanitarian and development sector.

[divider]Lucy Piper [/divider]

Doing a work placement at The Los Angeles Times in 2012 was a massive experience, shadowing and working alongside their staff photojournalists. (American newspapers still employ a lot of staff photographers, by the way!) I was only 20, so at the time was thrown in completely at the deep-end. I was working with people at the top of their game, but this only drove me more to get better as a photographer when I returned home again.

Lucy Piper
Editorial & Documentary Photographer based in South-west UK

[divider]Roberto Zampino [/divider]

My childhood in Sicily inspired me to want to tell the stories I would witness as a kid, discovering the work of Nachtwey and Salgado changed my vision, and I decided I wanted to tell stories.

Roberto Zampino
I am a Sicilian photographer and filmmaker. I have been based in Italy, Cyprus and London working as a freelance photographer, commercial and photography teacher.

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