In the video above, you can hear Ira not only talk about these basic tips for documentary photographers, but also about networking, selling a project, and using Instagram. In Ira's eyes, it's a great idea to have some of the work shot already when you start a project, and then look around for funding. This "work in progress" typically means that a publication and an editor can work with you to get something that will earn you money. It's a secret a lot of editors will tell you as well. When a project is done, then it can't be uniquely tailored, and it has to be absolutely perfect. But when it's in progress, there's more room for flexibility. If you haven't even started yet, then you're more or less a photographer just talking about something and not showing anything.
Obviously, showing off work is part of what it is to be a photographer.
These days, Ira is also a Sony Artisan, and so I had to ask him about gear. He believes you should use the equipment you're comfortable with and that you should know the ins and outs of your equipment. If you can't do this, then the likelihood of it working in the field in just the way you want could go down.
Plus, he provides some tips for using Instagram more effectively and culling down your edits.