Documentary Photographers share their experiences

10 photographers share advice on starting out in documentary photography

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 I ask:

For someone wanting to start exploring documentary photography – what one piece of advice would you give them?

[divider]Lewis Bush [/divider]

Start out just by exploring a subject or world you find interesting, don’t worry about the photography, that’ll come later.

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 would tell them to truly follow one’s own passions. Thus, to work on personal projects as a means to find one’s voice. There are many subjects that one can work on. Actually too many! But what really makes a difference is that we work on something that we believe in. In many ways, life is too short (also photographically) and I feel that it is very important that we spend time on something that touches us deeply.

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]

Take more risks!

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]

Research your subject matter beforehand, and feel part of it.

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]

I actually have two – photograph as much as you can, and study the work of masters that inspire you.

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]

Follow your interest, fall in love with your subject, and write your thoughts and feelings down along the way.

I found that only by being passionate about the subject, do I develop enough empathy and gain interesting insights about the other person, which I then can choose to share with an audience. Also very importantly this love generates the energy I need to follow the project through to the end.

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]

Get out of your comfort zone, photograph something meaningful and important that is right on your doorstep and then look hard at how best to tell that story. Remember that people (your audience) are moved by their feelings and by being taken on journeys and experiences. They are not moved by facts alone. Change people’s perceptions and you stand a chance of changing their actions.

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]

Know your story. Research, prepare and make friends.

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]

Study the greats to become inspired & figure out what type of approach you might want to take. William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, Annie Leibovitz, Cartier-Bresson, Steve McCurry, Sebastiao Salgado. If you look at those at the top of their game first this will make you decide if you want to get involved…and surely you would want to?

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

[divider]Roberto Zampino [/divider]

Follow what you like shooting, get involved and do not shoot at the beginning…let the flow come first!

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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