Documentary Photography Essay

1335 Words Apr 14th, 2016 6 Pages
‘Documentary Photography’

In the article Between Objectivity and Subjectivity: Understanding Photography written by Pieter Swanepoel, Swanepoel states that the Photographer has been seen rather as a “lowly button pressor” than an artist (Swanepoel, 2005: 204). Swanepoel in this statement suggests that the photographer is just an opperator of the mechanics of a camera and not important to the meaning and outcome of the photograph, however many photographers manipulated their images through technical means when capturing the photograph as well as developing it. Looking at two of the works by South African photographer Santu Mofokeng, Easter Sunday Church Service (1996)(Figure1) and Eyes Wide Shut (2004)(Figure 2) one clearly sees that
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In these two personal definitions by Mofokeng and Swanepoel, of documentary photography, we get the understanding that documentary photography is created by “lowly button pressors”, however this would exclude almost all contempory documentary photographs as alterations and manipulations are made continuously and professionally accepted in this day and age(Campbell, 2009: 55). Photographs are lense based images in either digital or chemical formats (Campbell, 2009: 53), many of Mafokeng’s photographs are taken on analog cameras and needed to be developed in a darkroom using chemicals, however due to him being a junior staff member at Afrapix at the time, the chemicals he got to use were usually old and used a few times before (Campbell, 2009: 54), however this seemed to add to the artistic style of his photographs.

Santu Mofokeng’s Easter Sunday Church Service (Figure 1) was taken in 1996 in the Free State. The photograph’s subject matter is of a group of women, mainly dressed in white. Although there are the few women not dressed in white in the foreground, they are not in focus which puts more emphasis on the women in white in focus in the background, using depth of field and this contrast creates a sense of unity. The smoke diagonally in the top right corner of

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