Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Exercise: PhotoNotes

This exercise involves reading an online article written by Elizabeth McCausland, published in January 1939. We are then to write short notes and a single paragraph on why this is important to this course.

  1. Written in 1939 this is a very fresh approach to Documentary.
  2. Documentary has a documented history of development and rapid growth with strong impulses producing intense work.
  3. Documentary is described as a "New Function" of the direct and realistic for the "profound and sober".
  4. References are made 35 years prior to the article of practitioners such as Lewis Hine's child labour images, giving evidence that documentary is nothing new.
  5. Two types (new and old) of practitioners that are "continents "apart"
  6. The article challenges the concept of the "honesty" of photography quite rightly. 
  7. McCausland repeatedly references The Farm Security Administration and capturing social injustice. This would have been very prevalent at the time of writing and I wonder if this has led to many photographers at the time shaping the modern face of documentary, giving an element of truth and form.
This article separates documentary from other genres of photography as well as establishing documentary as an art form. The concept of interpreting the unseen in an image is discussed at length; for example the social divide messages and how the photographer uses the physical to describe social injustice. It is these two points that help to progress the art of documentary and for practitioners to develop skills and recognise not only their immediate surroundings but how the image will be interpreted.   

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