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Monday, 24 March 2008

Cliches of Documentary Photography

After cliches of art photography, why not have cliches of photojournalism/documentary photography. There's a bit of crossover here between all the categories but you get the idea.

Most of the cliches are so huge in their range of possible treatments that they are only cliches if they are treated in a cliched manner. When someone says "Homelessness has been done", he or she is hugely wrong. Nothing has "been done". For all its ubiquity, photography has scraped the surface of all the categories listed here or elsewhere. Stick a half-original treatment in there and you find a fresh perspective on something that has supposedly been done a million times before.

Anyway, cliches of photojournalism, off the top of my flu-addled head, in no particular order.

Sex Industry
Environmental degradation
Illness & Disease
Housing and homelessness
Exotic and not-so-exotic minorities
Old age

Any more categories (All sport, especially boxing and amputee football, is banned). I'm having trouble coming up with the Documentary Photograph Ever, though. Any suggestions?


Anonymous said...

You were probably already thinking of this, but Migrant Mother would seem to be the mother of all documentary photographs. It invented about half of the cliches you've mentioned.

Please pardon the pun. It felt unavoidable.

colin pantall said...

Great choice, Dalton. I wasn't thinking of it, but it hits the spot - I reckon it touches on 8 or 9 of the categories (don't know if it invented them). hard to beat!

mark page said...

Anything by Salgado!

colin pantall said...

Hi Mark - Salgado, yes, indeed! I was thinking of him.

He may be sentimental, he may dramatise, but I love Salgado, especially the Brazilian work - it joins all the dots together, cliche by cliche (and that's a good thing) and it's beautiful to boot.

mark page said...

yes of course he is a great photographer, It's just me being British and building them up to knock em down!