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Documentary Photography- a form of Narrative Art

Documentary Photography is the act of shooting a photo or series of photos to describe and inform the viewer about a location, a cause or other subject. Usually the subject being documented is one that has been unknown to the majority of people. Documentary Photography is unique in that the photographer uses their photographs to tell a story and change the point of view of the viewer through the images and by raising their consciousness about the subject. Often documentary photographers were photojournalists who were hired and paid to tell stories with their images. Sometimes written imagery accompanied their work. During the Depression the government hired photographers and artists as part of several government funded programs, which were all part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal plan to stimulate the economy and employ people while building and renewing the country. Some of these plans included the hiring of artists and photographers. The photographerswere hired to document what was happening in the country and also to document what was being done to change and fix things. You can find links to many of the Photographers here.

Use this Library of Congress American Memory Project page as a starting point for your research on documentary photography. You can search by creator's (photographer) or by subject matter.


You may also enjoy the photo essay here. A photo essay is similar to a written essay, but instead of words telling the point of view of the author/artist the images portray the point of view. Although documentary photography is supposed to be objective and journalistic there is still a point of view that is being portrayed. The voice of the photographer can be heard through his or her interpretation of the subject's situation.

Click here to view the photo essay.

Lastly there is a terrific wikipedia site on the FSA photographers. Click here to check it out.