Documentary Photographers share their experiences

10 Photographers on what makes a good documentary photographer

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:

What makes a good documentary photographer?

[divider]Lewis Bush [/divider]

A heady mix of sensitivity and persistence.

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]

A good documentary photographer is someone that is empathetic yet will always say the truth.

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]

Someone who is passionate, determined and single minded.

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]

Is there a correct answer for that?!

Apart form being a good image-maker, I guess someone who is professional, patience, humble, human with compassion with a high standard of ethics and respect for their subject matter. Someone who consults the people they photograph before publishing the images to make sure they are happy with the content and message that will be put across. Someone who spends time researching on the subject and photographs over a long period of time.

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]

The ability and the engagement with the story, if you don’t like the story you are documenting it will be pretty hard to have a strong work in the end. But most important to show respect for the story and its subjects.

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]

The same that makes a good investigative journalist with the added knowledge on how to handle a photo/video camera and a sound recorder. But I think the most important traits would have to be reflection and communication.

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]

Curiosity (the natural bit), tenacity (the difficult bit) and technical skill (the easy bit).

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]

The ability to use a visual voice successfully – and to listen.

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]

The ability to communicate with people, give them respect within the photography, and be interested in the story you are photographing.

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

[divider]Roberto Zampino [/divider]

Pure curiosity and respect – without these two characteristics you are simply invading somebody else’s life!

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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