Documentary Photography

Documentary photography, also known as photojournalism, established its origins in war photography, namely the Civil War in the United States. Operating with three primary principles: objectivity, create a narrative and to record events, documentary photography is a varied and often reproduced category within photography. As such, authentication of documentary photography requires extensive research and professional analysis to confirm its origins.

The Golden Age of documentary photography, from the 1930’s-50’s, was highlighted by magazines such as Life and Look in the United States where the photographs were given more print space than text. With artists like Dorothea Lange, American’s were given the images of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl and left to draw conclusions based on objective images rather than text. Despite being on the decline since the 1970’s, documentary photography remains a critical component to media coverage by capturing emotion and vulnerability in a way that is only possible through visual context.

Dorothea Lange Photo

Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother, 1936

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