View Full Version : Journalism and documentary, bad words

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Jose A Martinez
05-30-2008, 12:33 PM

Anyone who wants to promote himself in any field of endeavor needs tenacity...

...They were photojournalists. However, I really donít want to discuss ďart;Ē itís an endless, non-resolvable argument. Good luck with your career.

Tim, I get your point, and I totally agree with you. This discusion is not about "art" or how famous photographers express about their work.

On the other hand, I repeat and also agree with you, I'll be tenacious, there is no other way to succeed. ;)

05-30-2008, 05:18 PM

In the short period that I have been on APUG I have been awestruck by the talent to which I am exposed. I believe your work is emotionally charged and should be shown.

I think you are right that there is a reluctance to show documentary photographers at galleries. I recall an interview of Steve McCurry where he dismissed the notion that his photographs were art. But in any event whether somebody considers documentary work to be art or not, I think some photographers have the ability to transcend time, and when an image can stand alone like that for years and still have an emotional resonance, then I think it’s worth studying and worth being exhibited.

That’s my two cents from a novice. I am already glad I discovered this forum. Thanks for sharing you work and contributing your thoughts.


07-09-2008, 12:37 PM
Photojournalism is dead a long ago. It is shifted to digital imaging (or if you like digital media...) and not so far from advertising (even the same with war journalism). Man, it is dead for ever and ever. At very end photography is not invented with mind around such thinks.

Daniel OB

08-23-2008, 12:09 AM
Actually Walker Evans had a show at MOMA in 1933. And I know Henri Cartier-Bresson showed there after the war. There were a lot of photography shows at MOMA before Arbus.

Some consider Evans and HCB to be documentary photographers.

So it looks like you have a good shot at MOMA. :)


some pretty heady company! if you get in Jose

08-23-2008, 12:18 AM
What I have found in all my rejection letters from galleries is a bit of inspiration to work harder, at first it feels like shit, like you got kicked in the balls but later on you just think THEIR WRONG I AM RIGHT and work harder!

Photojournalism/documentary photography in my opinion is the highest and most important type of photography so keep to your guns Jose!! I know I will!!


Jose A Martinez
08-26-2008, 12:16 PM
"if you want to be shown in a gallery your work have to be conceptual and big" Mary Ellen Mark, LOOK 3, Charlottesville, June 2008

12-20-2008, 11:54 AM
I'm here with you Jose, I feel your pain. And the MEM quote above is dead right.

BUT - you've got to stick at it. Why do you take the pictures you take? Because somebody else wants them that way, or because you want them that way? Do your own thing, what feels right. That is the best definition I can think of for art.

Anyone who produces work for a market, whether it's print media or a gallery, is pursuing commercial art. They are satisfying a commercial requirement. It's actually not that hard to do, you've just got to follow the crowd.

Cheers, Paul.

12-20-2008, 12:07 PM
"We conclude that in the today's art world, journalism and documentary are bad words."

In the art world, photojournalism and documentary work are bad words simply because they are not understood in any way, shape, or form; especially photojournalism. You can explain till you are blue in the face, and fine artists will just never get it. They will critique a journalism photo the same way they will critique an art photo. They just can't get rid of the ego and view a photograph as anything other than a photograph. They do not understand that it is journalism with photography as the tool, rather than a photographer's artwork with journalism as the subject matter.

Screw 'em and keep taking pictures. Photojournalism and documentary work by purpose and by nature is to be published and distributed to the masses (and *quickly*), not be "sold" to a gallery so it can be framed and presented on a wall. If it somehow ends up there some day, whatever. But your primary purpose is the publication and distribution of information, not the creation of art.

Even more sickening than the fact that art photographers just don't get journalism is the slew of art photographers who call themselves journalists or documentarians, when they are really just making art using techniques or looks of documentary photography. The number of people I have heard describe themselves as journalism or documentary photographers is about 10 times the number who actually are.

01-09-2009, 09:49 PM
It sounds like a battle between the Connoisseurs and the Contextualizists. I think the big reason you haven't got it in a gallery yet is because they're judging you prematurely. I've seen your work and although you have the social meaning, documentation and show what most people don't see (which is the functionalist, contextual side of your work), your work is also very stylistic, emotionally charged and has a "museum" aspect to it. I think you really need to prove to them that there can be a mix of the two. Your work doesn't look like something that belongs in National Geographic, it belongs in galleries. I think history will show that galleries are leaning towards being more open to artistic documentarians such as yourself, but some have just stuck to the please the connoisseurs and "those kind" of photographs. Keep trying man.

04-14-2009, 09:43 PM
Well, I'm a photojournalism student at Temple university. I don't really shoot people for fun, but its enjoyable(I prefer landscapes) and I think you can covey an idea and be aesthetically pleasing at the same time. The most effective news photographs are art in their own right. Sure lots of news pictures are garbage, but some aren't. Really though, that applies for all photography. Its on the photographer to make a good image, not the genre.

I'd like to think that fine art and photojournalism can exist in harmony, I certainly don't plan to stop shooting fine art images when I turn pro. I think a good example of a photographer succeeding in both worlds is Lee Miller (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Miller).

04-14-2009, 10:25 PM
What it really comes down to for me is the importance of making the photograph. If the work gets seen that is a huge bonus but the most important thing is that the work is made in the first place. I believe that if you make the work and keep shooting your doing the most improtant thing. Screw 'em and keep taking pictures as 2F says, then your doing the right thing, let everything else fall into place after (many photographers are published and shown after their worm food anyway, the sad part is not creating the work during your lifetime but if you create the work and it is shown after your gone, so be it)...

the work you create is what matters.

04-14-2009, 11:23 PM
When I was in art school there were 4 majors: illustration, design, fine arts and photography. There was a lot of rivalry and some bad-blood between people: illustrators sell their work so they're whores, photographers can't draw so they take pictures, etc, etc. It was really retarded.