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What is the difference between Photojournalism and Documentary Photography?

I cannot seem to find any recognized definitions here. I suspect that the real answer is that there is a continuum of differences, without there being a bright line. If that is the case, what are the elements that clearly define the one and then the other.

Those of you who teach or have taught photography please chime in and let us know what you tell students.

by [a former member] at 2011-05-14 13:04:00 UTC | Bookmark | | Report spam→

I think documentary work tends to be more long form. Photojournalism is closer to news photography and tends to happen over less time as well I think photojournalism is more about the clear and direct communication of information. But clearly they are very closely related and the terms are used by some interchangeably. I consider myself a documentary photojournalism so I suppose I would say that documentary is a subset of photojournalism.

by [former member] | 14 May 2011 14:05 | Barcelona, Spain | | Report spam→
Some thoughts for students via cut and paste:

Initially social documentary was marked by a"documentary code of accuracy mixed with impassioned advocacy, with the goal of arousing public commitment to social change." And then in “wartime and postwar eras, documentary photography increasingly became subsumed under the rubric of photojournalism.” MoMA curator John Szarkowski proposed in the exhibition New Documents “that a new generation, committed not to social change but to formal and iconographical investigation of the social experience of modernity, had replaced the older forms of social documentary photography.”

“Photojournalism is a particular form of journalism (the collecting, editing, and presenting of news material for publication or broadcast) that creates images in order to tell a news story.Photojournalism is distinguished from other close branches of photography (such as documentary photography, social documentary photography, street photography or celebrity photography) by the qualities of:

Timeliness — the images have meaning in the context of a recently published record of events.

Objectivity — the situation implied by the images is a fair and accurate representation of the events they depict in both content and tone.

Narrative — the images combine with other news elements to make facts relatable to the viewer or reader on a cultural level"

by [former member] | 14 May 2011 14:05 | NYC, United States | | Report spam→
Damaso, by your definition couldn’t photojournalism instead be a subset of documentary photography? And is using time (long form) the only element? What about objectivity/subjectivity/empathy/advocacy of image capture, or context vs. moment (decisive or otherwise)?

For example, which of HCB’s photographs fell into pj work and which were documentary (and where does all of this intersect with fine art photography)?

I read this interesting piece and left more confused than ever.

by [former member] | 14 May 2011 14:05 (ed. May 14 2011) | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
I think both kinds of photography can fall under fine art photography as well. I think that documentary work is more narrow than photojournalism. Photojournalism covers all kinds of journalistic photography while not all kinds of photojournalism are documentary.

Honestly I don’t think the line is hard and fast. Many people do use these terms interchangeably. As a practical matter I don’t think these definitions matter all that much. You look at HCB’s work and much of could be either or both and certainly is seen by most as fine art.

I’ve always considered myself a photojournalist because of my background in news photography. I grew into a documentary photojournalist as I spent more time working on projects and getting deeper into the subject matter I covered. I compose with the eye of a fine art photographer creating images that don’t just transmit information but try to convey something beyond mere data…

by [former member] | 14 May 2011 18:05 | Barcelona, Spain | | Report spam→
Interesting, my initial reaction is exactly the other way from Damaso’s – that photojournalism is a subset of documentary. I think the depth (breadth?) of documentary includes PJ. And in that context, one would broaden, not narrow, into a documentarian over a photojournalist because of that depth and length of time spent on the subject matter.

For instance, if I were to answer the question “Do you think the works of the FSA photographers is photojournalism or documentary?” I would say it was documentary…because of that depth/breadth, longer time, and more open narrative. And I think documentary is a subset of fine art…which of course makes PJ a subset of it as well….but if you took a single photographer of that group, and a shorter timeframe, it might then be more along the lines of pj work..

But hey, I’m happy if I can press the shutter button and after it goes “click” I like what I got :)

by Andrew Brinkhorst | 14 May 2011 20:05 | Atlanta GA, United States | | Report spam→
Cutting to the bone, photojournalism reports on something current, documentary “documents” it for permanent record with greater responsibility towards context, effects,and analysis. Thus, yesterday’s photojournalism may comprise tomorrow’s documentary. Thoughts?
Tobie

by BignoseTW | 15 May 2011 02:05 | Taipei, Taiwan | | Report spam→
Erica, as far as I can recall, the idea of the New Documents show (see Jonathan Green’s excellent article about Arbus/Friedlander/Winogrand in American Photography A Critical History) was that the ‘new documentarians’ were more interested in a more personal expression. Though this could be argued of Evans’ work also…

by Jonathan Lipkin | 16 May 2011 04:05 | Brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
As far as I have found this varies from across the pond, it is more prominent term/genera used in the West.
In the UK, a photojournalist normally works to a news brief, house style and time limits. Documentary, refers to self assigned stories/issues that the photographer feels compelled to cover and often may take several months/years compared to days or weeks for photojournalism.
However with many photographers now doing self assigned photojournalism complicates the picture further, as both genera’s are now also exhibiting on white walls. Both also tend to adhere to high ethics of representation,truth (?) etc. but Documentary has also had a wave of fake/mockumentary as an art form where few have been labelled as fake photojournalism. That said there seems to be a more ridged code of practice in the USA via NPPA for photojournalists than in the UK

by Gary Austin | 16 May 2011 11:05 | Derby, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
As far as I have found this varies from across the pond, it is more prominent term/genera used in the West.
In the UK, a photojournalist normally works to a news brief, house style and time limits. Documentary, refers to self assigned stories/issues that the photographer feels compelled to cover and often may take several months/years compared to days or weeks for photojournalism.
However with many photographers now doing self assigned photojournalism complicates the picture further, as both genera’s are now also exhibiting on white walls. Both also tend to adhere to high ethics of representation,truth (?) etc. but Documentary has also had a wave of fake/mockumentary as an art form where few have been labelled as fake photojournalism. That said there seems to be a more ridged code of practice in the USA via NPPA for photojournalists than in the UK

by Gary Austin | 16 May 2011 11:05 | Derby, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
As I understand it, the difference between photojournalism and documentary photography is that photographers are paid poorly for the former and nothing for the latter.

by Akaky | 16 May 2011 22:05 (ed. May 18 2011) | New York , United States | | Report spam→
I think Akaky nailed it.

Tobie: yes, exactly….breadth and depth and time….

by Andrew Brinkhorst | 17 May 2011 00:05 (ed. May 17 2011) | Lexington, KY, United States | | Report spam→
A relevant thought here from veteran photo editor John Morris:

“The duty of a photojournalist is to tell the truth in pictures.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-13224173

by [former member] | 17 May 2011 15:05 | NYC, United States | | Report spam→
And, perhaps a documentary photographer is given more leeway to lend his interpretation to a narrative, true or not.

by [former member] | 17 May 2011 15:05 | NYC, United States | | Report spam→
Also see http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/reportsitem.aspx?id=101591

Photojournalism and Documentary Photography
They are identical mediums, sending different messages.
By Antonin Kratochvil with Michael Persson

by [former member] | 23 May 2011 11:05 | NYC, United States | | Report spam→
Document
noun |ˈdäkyəmənt|
a piece of written, printed, or electronic matter that provides information or evidence or that serves as an official record.

Journal |ˈjərnl|
noun
1 a newspaper or magazine that deals with a particular subject or professional activity : medical journals | [in names ] the Wall Street Journal.
2 a daily record of news and events of a personal nature; a diary.

given these definitions, wouldn’t it make more sense for the photojournalist being the one with more leeway for personal interpretation?

by Allan Lissner | 23 May 2011 16:05 | Toronto, Canada | | Report spam→
And just to stir the pot further, where does that leave ‘reportage’?

by Nigel Amies | 24 May 2011 01:05 | Vientiane, Laos | | Report spam→
Hopefully as a thing one does :)

by [former member] | 25 May 2011 11:05 | NYC, United States | | Report spam→
Nigel, re: my definitions above- I suspect that reportage comes under the heading of photojournalism, reporters and journalists being the same thing in the popular imagination, and therefore means that the photographer will be paid poorly by French people.

by Akaky | 27 May 2011 18:05 | New York , United States | | Report spam→
…and also by everyone else, irrespective of nationality….

by [former member] | 28 May 2011 01:05 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
Photojournalism is illustration. Its a sub genre of documentary. Documentary once pretended to be ‘objective’ and about ‘documenting’ issues. However, it always had a ‘colonialist’ undertone. This is why Photographers like Walker Evans said that he photographed using the ‘documentary style’ to make his work distinct from the propaganda (however well intentioned) that was coming from the FSA at the time. ‘Humanist’ photojournalists (and most war photographers) still believe we are living in 1947 when you pointed a camera at a starving child and it changed the world. They believed that as they flew back to their comfortable lives in the west. Nowadays documentary asks: why is this child starving? (since Parr, Graham, Killip et al) it questions this commonsense notion and implicates photography in a political act. It can never ‘sympathise’ with the subject no matter how much we want it to ‘its a fiction about metaphor’ as Killip said.

by Garry Clarkson | 28 May 2011 11:05 | Leeds, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/reportsitem.aspx?id=101591

Photojournalism and Documentary Photography
They are identical mediums, sending different messages.
By Antonin Kratochvil with Michael Persson

“There is a division in photo reportage. There is photojournalism and there are photo documentaries: Identical mediums, but conveying very different messages. Documentary photographers reveal the infinite number of situations, actions and results over a period of time. In short, they reveal life. Life isn’t a moment. It isn’t a single situation, since one situation is followed by another and another. Which one is life?”

Photojournalism—in its instant shot and transmission—doesn’t show “life.” It neither has the time to understand it nor the space to display its complexity. The pictures we see in our newspapers show frozen instants taken out of context and put on a stage of the media’s making, then sold as truth. But if the Molotov cocktail-throwing Palestinian is shot in the next instant, how is that told? And what does that make him—a nationalist or terrorist? From the photojournalist, we’ll never know since time is of the essence, and a deadline always looms. Viewers can be left with a biased view, abandoned to make up their minds based on incomplete evidence."

by [former member] | 28 May 2011 22:05 | Barcelona, Spain | | Report spam→
Documentary photography, photojournalism and news photography today. Questions and answers
Alan D. Coleman

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=ru&sl=auto&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.photographer.ru%2Fcult%2Ftheory%2F383.htm

by MD | 31 May 2011 02:05 | Kiev, Ukraine | | Report spam→
Photojournalism will get you $200 a day.

Documentary photography will cost you $200 a day.

by James Colburn | 31 May 2011 15:05 | McAllen, Texas, United States | | Report spam→

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Participants

Andrew Brinkhorst, photographer Andrew Brinkhorst
photographer
Lexington, Ky , United States
BignoseTW, Videographer/Photographer BignoseTW
Videographer/Photographer
(Tobie Openshaw)
Taipei , Taiwan
Jonathan Lipkin, Professor, Photographer Jonathan Lipkin
Professor, Photographer
Brooklyn , United States
Gary Austin, Photojournalist Gary Austin
Photojournalist
(British Photojournalist)
Derby , United Kingdom ( EMA )
Akaky, Contemptible lout Akaky
Contemptible lout
New York , United States ( AAA )
Allan Lissner, Multimedia Producer Allan Lissner
Multimedia Producer
Big Trout Lake , Canada
Nigel Amies, Photographer/writer Nigel Amies
Photographer/writer
[undisclosed location].
Garry Clarkson, Photographer/Lecturer Garry Clarkson
Photographer/Lecturer
Leeds , United Kingdom
MD, MD
Kiev , Ukraine
James Colburn, Photographer/Photo Editor James Colburn
Photographer/Photo Editor
Omaha, Nebraska , United States ( OMA )


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