The Golden Hues of the Haldi Festival Are Perfect for Documentary Photography

This colorful collection shows us why the Haldi Festival is a golden opportunity for documentary photography.

Festivals and community events are among the favorite subjects of documentary photographers for a good number of reasons. Not only do they serve as windows to various cultures and beliefs around the world, but also reveal different aspects of humanity. In her collection of photos of the Haldi Festival, however, Navi Mumbai-based photographer Akshaya B. also shows us that festivals are perfect for those who want to explore and play with vivid hues in their photography. If you’re looking to add some color in your work, this Indian festival is nothing short of a golden opportunity!

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9 Lenses Perfect For Documentary Photography With The Fujifilm X Pro 3

fujifilm lenses

The Fujifilm X-Pro 3 may just be the perfect camera for Documentarians to tote around, and these lenses will help you get the most out of it.

The just-announced Fujifilm X Pro 3 has warmed the hearts of many photographers due to its beautiful retro styling, it’s innovative rear E-Ink screen, and of course, its tried and true X-Trans Sensor. Previous iterations of this camera have been incredibly popular with street photographers, documentarians and photojournalists. There’s no doubt the Fujifilm X Pro 3 will be as well. Fujifilm has a vast collection of both primes and zooms that will help make this camera a fantastic tool for those who love documentary photography. Here we will take a quick look at the lenses that we would use for this genre of photography. Continue reading…

Jenna Shouldice’s Powerful Black and White Documentary Photography (NSFW)

All documentary photography by Jenna Shouldice. Used with permission. 

“During labor, I feel like a magnet to the experience,” explains Jenna Shouldice. She’s a documentary photographer based on Vancouver Island. Her curiosity in the human experience has led her to document one of the most emotional moments a person can go through – giving birth. The process of giving birth is often misunderstood. People cringe at the thought of blood, pain, sweat, and tears. But in her series, The Labor Process, Jenna has managed to show the beautiful, gentle, binding journey people go on when moving into parenthood. This project is extremely moving. To see such a moment of vulnerability communicated in a series of powerful images is special. We spoke to Jenna to learn about how she first had the idea, and to understand how the process of putting it all together was for her.

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Street and Documentary Photography: What’s the Difference?

Street and documentary photography are so closely linked that they often can be mistaken for being the same thing. If we analyse both genres, on the surface we will find many similarities. Both center around the model of the candid frame. They are unpredictable and often the photographer will have to adapt their approach in order to get the story they are wanting to tell. They are a form of social documentary, portraying the current times, people, and culture. When we think of a master like Robert Frank, his work has somehow merged the two genres into one. But remember, that is just the surface. Once we go deeper the differences start to develop and we’re going to take a look at them. Continue reading…

7 Videos on Sebastião Salgado’s Iconic Documentary Photography

Anyone who picks up a camera wanting to do documentary photography should definitely study intently the works of celebrated photojournalist Sebastião Salgado.

Sebastião Salgado is one of the names you’ll encounter once you tread down the path of documentary photography (especially social documentary) and photojournalism. The Brazilian photographer is especially known for his dramatic black and white images which explore the relationship man and nature have with each other. There’s nothing like getting first-hand insights, opinions, and ideas from the photographer himself, so we’ve put together a collection of interviews and talks where Sebastião Salgado talks about his life and work.

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Giacomo Bruno’s Documentary Photography of the Cinnamon Harvest in Sri Lanka

All images by Giacomo Bruno. Used with Creative Commons permission.

Whenever we take a look at the works of Milan-based Giacomo Bruno, he proves each time that he should be on everyone’s list of exemplary documentary photographers. Today, we place the spotlight on another beautiful set from his visit in Sri Lanka, this time telling us about one of the country’s raw gold agricultural products: cinnamon.

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Why Documentary Photography Needs to Fundamentally Change and Evolve

This is a syndicated blog post from our premium publication, La Noir Image. For even more, we highly suggest that you subscribe. $15/year gets you content and presets, $40/year gets that and a special tutorial video coming soon. $100/year gets you all of that plus a special portfolio critique of 20 of your images.

Lead photo by Tuncay

Years ago, photojournalists were creating images that changed the world, our opinions on life, public policies, etc. The photo was powerful; and it arguably still is. But the inherent problem with the photo’s power these days has to do with a myriad of changes in society where the photo just hasn’t been able to keep up. Just think about it: years ago photography had a big part of ending the Vietnam War and exposing lots of other major issues with society. But these days, it’s not as effective. This isn’t only in the richer, more developed societies but instead all over the world. To understand why, we need to explore photography and culture’s relationship.

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Pierre Melion’s Documentary Photography of a Vanishing Japanese Fish Market

All images by Pierre Melion. Used with permission.

Photographer Pierre Melion is on a mission to relate the tale of a piece of Japanese culture that’s going to disappear in one way or another. The project is called the The Tsukiji Compromise and focuses on a Japanese fish market that’s being levelled to make room for an Olympic Town. Pierre’s cinematic images do a wonderful job of telling the story.

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Setting Up Your Documentary Photography For Success In Today’s World

Feature image by Anne WornerSince the dawn of readily available photographic tools photographers have been using their talents to document the world around them. These documentary photo projects have had the potential to change the world; exposing atrocities and ending wars. But the world is different now, with information overload it seems like a powerful image no longer carries the weight that it once did, so what can you do as a photographer now to give your documentary photo project the best chance and calling attention to your chosen subject?

In the old days, you could count on newspapers to run with impactful images from war zones or impoverished cities to shed some light on the issues that face the rest of the country while you were deciding what to have for lunch. Now you have two issues, newspapers and the media are more careful not to offend with the images that they post and at the same time people are bombarded with shock and awe images online by the minute and have become desensitized to all but the most graphic and disturbing of imagery.

That said, you don’t need the media or newspapers to get your message out these days, that is the glory of social media. You just need some solid imagery, a good story/subject, and the know how to promote it on social media in the right way to get the attention that it needs. So in some ways, it is easier than ever for your documentary photo project to have an impact on the world (or at the very least the subject of your documentary) and in other ways, it is also much more difficult.

Image by Konrad Lembcke

Starting with a Plan

The first step to ensuring that your photos have the desired effect is to sit down and really set out a plan before you even start shooting. What are your goals for the project, what are your trying to document, and what ways do you plan on using those images to promote it. If you know how you plan on promoting the project you can have eyes out during the process for images that will help you do that promotion better.

For example, say that you wanted to highlight the water shortage in a small African village. While you are in the village taking images you could make sure to take images of children or elderly members of the village. These images will be more impactful to joe and sally average than a picture of a healthy looking adult would be. That is not to say you should not capture the entire story and document what you set out to document, but if you have an idea in your head about how you want to promote your project you can better shoot your project in a way that will play well into that promotion – rather than working against it, or making it more difficult than its needs to be.

Image by Tuncay


The advent of crowdsourcing has been especially valuable to documentary photo projects because it serves two purposes. Not only is it an effective means of securing the funding needed to make your documentary photo project a reality, but it also serves as marketing for the project itself.

This has the effect of creating some early fans of the project before you ever complete it. This means, in theory, once your project is done, you already have a collection of individuals who are interested in seeing your work, but also are more likely to share and help promote the project (assuming you were able to creatively tell your story well).

Sites like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and GoFundMe are invaluable resources because they allow obscure projects to obtain funding. It’s not just big names and big brands, these sites are littered with success stories of people getting their projects funded because they were able to effectively get their vision across and capture the imagination of individuals with money to spare.

Kickstarter has the most brand awareness but is also fairly risky because if you don’t meet your goal, you don’t get any money. IndiGogo on the other hand, you can setup your campaign so that you get whatever money you earn, no matter if your goal is met or not. This is a better way to go, as if things don’t go as planned you can still move forward with your project with whatever support you did receive, rather than having to go back to square one.

Robin Hammond, the photographer behind Mental Illness, told Time in 2015 that a key to getting funding and awareness about your project is to not wait for the money before starting your project. Individual investors need to trust you with their money (as do Crowdsourcing supporters), which for a photo project means they need to be able to see more than your idea/story intentions, they need to see that you can actually pull them off. So if you have the means to get started on your project on your own, do so, this way you will have some proof and examples to show when you start looking for funding.

A Question of Timeliness

There is something that also needs to be said for having timeliness with your documentary photo project, and I don’t mean finishing it quickly. I mean the time that you choose to pursue and promote it. Documentary photo projects are much more marketable when they piggyback on the coattails of major news stories – so for example, if you did a photo project in a small village that is now involved in a civil war that is making headlines, this would be something that editors and media companies would be very interested in licensing. Which has the added benefit both supporting your work and getting it published in front of many more people that you likely could have on your own.

That is not to say that you should go looking for stories that will be in the news, because as we all know, predicting what will and will not make worldwide headlines is next to impossible. But watching the news, paying attention to world events, and generally being aware of what is going on in the world will greatly help you to discern if a story may have some potential for this avenue of promotion and profit.

Image by Mario Mancuso

The Reality

You shouldn’t go out as a documentary photographer looking to make money, the story you are trying to tell or expose needs to be at the heart of your motivations. The sad reality is that you could do everything in your power to promote and spread your work and it could still not be enough.

So, in the end, you need to be able to feel good and right about your story – regardless of if the rest of the world takes notice. Do what you love, and document what you care about.

8 Great Resources for Documentary Photography Online

Are you working on or considering a documentary photography project and are looking for a place for it to be seen or financially supported? Do you want to learn more about the craft and philosophy of documentary photography? Here’s a handy guide to resources for both aspiring and established documentary photographers.

Social Documentary Network

While some documentary photography focuses on problems that need fixing, wars, poverty and more, documentary photography can also be about “joy, love, happiness, ordinary life anywhere,” and the Social Documentary Network accepts the documents of the good with the bad. Or, as they put it, contributors “work can be about solutions, recovery, peace and reconciliation, and rebuilding. But it can also be about conflict, and disease, and climate change, as long as the stories are about real people and/or real situations. We want the real stuff, your stuff — messy, awkward, jubilant, filled with contradictions, want of answers, but the stuff that the world is made up of everywhere, every day.” Got a compelling story that you want a tell? Submit six photos, an abstract describing the project, and captions. SDN charges a “nominal fee” but provides a platform to get the truth out, but membership is free.

Moving Walls

Moving Walls is an annual documentary photography exhibition produced by the Open Society Foundations Documentary Photography Project. Moving Walls is exhibited at the Open Society offices in New York, London, and Washington, D.C., as well as online, and includes five to seven discrete bodies of work. Since 1998, the Moving Walls exhibition series has showcased nearly 200 photographers in 23 group exhibitions that align with the Open Society Foundations’ mission to advance human rights and social justice. Open Society Foundations  says they “work to build vibrant and tolerant societies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people.”

Documentary Photography Review

Documentary Photography Review provides a place for documentary photographers of all levels  a place to showcase their work. Photo stories and personal project, competed or in progress, are all fare game. Submitted work is reviewed and if it is a cohesive body of work with engaging imagery, it will be added to the site. Rejects are critiqued in the hopes that the photographer will improve and re-submit, making this a great place to go to grow as a documentary photographer. “Through this process the desire is that those who share their stories will evolve as documentary photographers and become more competent in the art of visual storytelling,” says the site.

American Photo

Once upon a time, American Photo was the ultimate taste-maker in the world of fine-art photography magazines, with a sizable circulation and impressive print reproduction. Nowadays, thanks to the shrinking magazine world, there is no American Photo magazine; it is now a web site. The good news? If you’ve made it in documentary and photojournalism, it’s the place to be seen. Not a place for first-timers, but AP’s editors scour the world for impressive photo essays and documentary work, accompanied by thoughtful text that as always, gives the work the proper perspective.

The Aftermath Project

The Aftermath Project is a non-profit organization on a mission to tell “the other half of the story of conflict – the story of what it takes for individuals to learn to live again, to rebuild destroyed lives and homes, to address the lingering wounds of war while struggling to create new avenues for peace.” Heady stuff. Every year, the Aftermath Project holds a yearly grant competition open to photographers worldwide covering the aftermath of conflict.They’ve partnered with schools, institutes and other non-profit organization to spread the word. Borne of photographer Sara Terry’s five-year-long project documenting the aftermath of the 1992-95 war with Bosnia and Hetrzegovina, Terry felt the concept deserved to be expanded to raise awareness. The goal is to show people the real cost of war and the price of peace.


Founded by a photojournalist and a working press photographer, Momenta provides workshops to teach aspiring photographers the basics of documentary photography and beyond. Momenta is the official producer of Leica Destinations and runs travel documentary workshops (they have one to Bali this summer), and business workshops for photographers, but the heart and soul of Momenta is the Project Series workshops, which promote social change by training photographers at all levels to be better visual storytellers, the essence of documentary photography. Upcoming “project” workshops will take place in New Orleans,, Porland, and Columbia.

W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund

Created in the name of the famous Life magazine documentary photographer W. Eugene Smith, the W. Eugene Smith Memorial fund was established in 1979 to seek out and encourage photographers who are working against the fashions and economics of modern publishing. In the first 30 years of the competition the fund selected 303 finalists out of many thousands of proposals, and provided 32 of them with grant money to complete their projects. The winners of the grant are selected based on their ability to approach Smith’s high standards, encapsulated in the following quote: “I am a compassionate cynic, yet I believe I am one of the most affirmative photographers around. I have tried to let the truth be my prejudice. It has taken much sweat. It has been worth it.” Grant applications are available on the web site, and supporters can donate online as well.


Aperture is a not-for-profit foundation that publishes a highly-respected quarterly magazine that includes extensive documentary work. Aperture also hosts exhibitions at its New York gallery as well as touring shows, sells limited-edition prints, and prints up to 15 photo books a year. Although not exclusively focused on documentary photography, documentary projects make up a high percentage of the work published by Aperture and shown on their web site. An annual Portfolio Prize recognizes and promotes emerging photographers.


doc! photo magazine  and contra doc! are online publications devoted to documentary and fine art photography, respectively. Both magazines share the same approach to the photography which they perceive as an universal communication platform between people despite their backgrounds, gender, political views, or religions. Doc! is looking for documentary photo essays only. Submissions of up to 15 photos are welcome.

The Documentary Project

If you’re reading this in March, you just missed the deadline for the Documentary Project’s annual competition. The two awards given in 2017 were the Established Artist award of $5,000, open to anyone on any topic local to the photographer. The second is the Emerging Vision $3500 award, meant for new or transitioning photographers. But don’t worry: More competitions will be available next year, and you can see previous award winners on the web site.


Started by Jack Conte, a mad musical genius who comprises half of the online musical phenomenon Pomplamoose, Patreon is an online crowdfunding platform for the creative arts. Originally started for musicians, it is being used by filmmakers, painters, writers and, yes, photographers. If none of the above works for you, consider a DIY fundraiser.

Lead photo by Victor Bezrukov. 

Why Documentary Photography Desperately Needs to Change and Evolve

Lead photo by Tuncay

Years ago, photojournalists were creating images that changed the world, our opinions on life, public policies, etc. The photo was powerful; and it arguably still is. But the inherent problem with the photo’s power these days has to do with a myriad of changes in society where the photo just hasn’t been able to keep up. Just think about it: years ago photography had a big part of ending the Vietnam War and exposing lots of other major issues with society. But these days, it’s not as effective. This isn’t only in the richer, more developed societies but instead all over the world. To understand why, we need to explore photography and culture’s relationship.

Continue reading…

The Failure of Modern Documentary Photography and Photojournalism

For generations, what photographers have tried to do to get society to change its minds about social and political issues is showing exactly what happens. We, as in most of society, are behind a safety of sorts: there are screens, editors, warnings etc that the most graphic photojournalism and documentary stories that can really change a person’s mind about an issue. These censors have made the public immune to so many things–so much so that we continue on to other stories like those of some kid blaming Pokemon Go for them walking into traffic.

Why? We, as a society, like being entertained pretty much to death,

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Daniel Zvereff: On Black and White Documentary Photography

This is a syndicated blog post from La Noir Image. It’s a preview of the type of content you’ll be able to get if we receive our Kickstarter funding.

All images by Daniel Zvereff. Used with permission.



Be sure to support our Kickstarter! We’re in the middle and could really use more funding! If you like stories like this, you’ll be able to get all this and more with La Noir Image the magazine

You’re a photographer that often shoots in color; and very vivid colors! So what creative choices typically make you shoot in black and white instead?

I’m not quite sure if there is a straightforward decision in my mind when working on a project that steers me towards color or black and white. I think its more of a feeling, something I can’t quite explain.

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Daniel Zvereff: On Black and White Documentary Photography


All images by Daniel Zvereff. Used with permission.



Be sure to support our Kickstarter! We’re in the middle and could really use more funding! If you like stories like this, you’ll be able to get all this and more with La Noir Image the magazine

You’re a photographer that often shoots in color; and very vivid colors! So what creative choices typically make you shoot in black and white instead? 


 I’m not quite sure if there is a straightforward decision in my mind when working on a project that steers me towards color or black and white. I think its more of a feeling, something I can’t quite explain.

Shooting color and the whole thought process of composition is much different than black and white. So when you go about composing and creating images for black and white, what thought processes are you typically adhering to and what are something that you’re always being conscious of? 

I grew up shooting exclusively in black and white my entire life up until the last few years. When I am shooting color, I am definitely still thinking in terms of black and white, I haven’t changed my thought process at all. I think I produce a better image when negating color from my mindset, I find it distracts me.


What do you feel black and white does for a photo that color can’t do and do you feel that black and white is still very important to photography? Why? 

I don’t think there is something that color photography can’t do or vice versa. I think it all boils down to a process and idea– thats one of the joys of photography, choosing a medium that best fits ones concept. In the end, whatever it is you are trying to accomplish with your work, there are endless possibilities. 


What’s your approach when it comes to photographing people for a project? How do you converse with them? 

Every approach is different, mostly, I find its about being open and having a little courage to break out of the comfort bubble of keeping to yourself. A lot of people are really open to being photographed and having a conversation.

Talk to us about the gear you use and your favorite black and white film? 

I loved tri-x, still do, its not as good as it was in the early 2000s, but still great. I use Leica equipment for digital and 35mm formats. I also have a wonderful Rolleiflex 2.8F and a Mamiya 6 for 120mm format.


Sarah Wayte: Family Documentary Photography and Smiling A Lot

All images by Sarah Wayte. Used with permission.

Photographer Sarah Wayte is a wedding and family documentary shooter based in Essex. She believes that smiling a lot is a big part of her job.

“As with most things in my life, I pretty much fell into photography around a decade ago, teaching myself through books, magazines and the internet.” she says to the Phoblographer in an email. “For years I stuck to nature, landscapes and architecture, until one day I got asked to photograph the wedding of a friend which I promptly refused to do, not wanting to be responsible for potentially ruining memories of their happy day.” Since then, much has changed.

Sarah, like many wedding photographers, is a people person. And she’s recently gotten into a new genre associated with wedding photography: family documentary. Essentially, it’s a follow up to the wedding and what happened afterward. But for Sarah, it’s all about the moments.


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Let’s Feature Your Documentary Photography Projects

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Gritty black and white images (1 of 2)ISO 32001-400 sec at f - 1.8

Hey everyone,

The Phoblographer wants to feature and interview photographers who do documentary projects, and so we’re calling on you guys to submit to us. If you’ve got a message that you’re trying to get across through dynamic imagery, the site wants to show it to the world.

So how do you pitch it us?

– Shoot an email at editors[at]thephoblographer[dot]com.

– Speak about yourself as a photographer. Tell us the who, what, when, where, how and why. Plus, be sure to explain your project.

– Show us websites of yours and maybe around 10 images or so in an email at around 1000 pixels on the long side.

– Tell us why the readers want to see your work., or why your project is really cool.

Submission not following this format will probably not be considered, so please be thorough.



How to Improve Your Documentary Photography


Many associate the golden era of documentary photography with the heyday of picture magazines such as Life and Look magazine, but the practice of the photo story is still alive and well. Though such work may not find a home within the pages of most of today’s consumer magazines, there is still an interest in such bodies of work which can be frequently found online.

These photographers, many of whom I have had the opportunity to interview on my podcast, The Candid Frame, focus on more than just getting a nice-looking singular image. Instead, they show the power of a photo story where multiple images are used to convey facts, emotion and drama. These techniques can be used just as effectively by the rest of us whether we are focusing our lens on the lives of others or our own.

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Looking for a Good Photography Documentary? Check These Out!

If you want a solid photography documentary, check what we’ve got below!

If you’re passionate about photography, then it’s likely your interest goes beyond the practical aspect of the craft. Your love leads you to consume: other photographs, photo books, tutorials, and the like. A well-made photography documentary is popular with budding photographers and seasoned pros. Thanks YouTube, there are plenty of photo docs you can invest your time in, and gain inspiration and education along the way. Let’s take a look.

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Short Documentary Explores Why Film Photography Lives On

Film is not dead; we already know that. This short NBC Left Field documentary instead wanted to delve deeper into the mindset, and why now is a good time to get into film photography.

Film lives, and has been thriving alongside the digital age, much to the surprise of many. But for those who still #believeinfilm and choose to #staybrokeshootfilm (along many other mantras and hashtags), the love for this old-fashioned medium goes beyond gathering likes and attention on social media. It’s a way of life. Many short films and documentaries have explored the so-called analog resurgence, and it seems we’ll keep seeing more of it. The latest to tackle the topic is NBC Left Field, which sought to find out why the younger generation are embracing the slower process of film.

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6 Versatile Zoom Lenses for Documentary and Lifestyle Photography

e mount lenses

Being able to capture a story with a single shot can be tricky; these zoom lenses will help make documentary photography easier though.

Being a lifestyle or documentary photographer can be quite challenging. You need to be able to work in a variety of scenarios, and you need to be able to capture the moment in a split second. Prime lenses are great, but sometimes zoom lenses allow you to get the shot a lot quicker due to you being able to stay in place and zoom in or out on the scene at hand. You also need to be able to shoot in both good and poor lighting situations. There’s a lot to take into consideration when choosing lenses for these genre’s of photography, so we have put together a short list of zoom lenses that will make your life as a lifestyle or documentary photographer that much easier. Continue reading…

This Short Documentary Tells Why Film Photography is Still Alive

There has never been a more fitting time to say that film photography is still alive.

Compared to the current fast-pace of digital photography, film photography has been a calm and steady stream. Since the so-called analog resurgence, its advocates have been busy giving old cameras a new lease on life, keeping the demand for film going, and making new emulsions and cameras whenever the opportunity arises. The battle cry of these stalwart supporters of film? “Film is not dead,” or as the case presented in a short documentary by Take Kayo, “Film is still alive.”

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