I started early but it wasn’t a passion
I’ve been taking photos all of my life. When I was 7 or 8 years old I was given my grandparent’s old Kodak instamatic 25 camera and for many years in inherited my family’s cast-off cameras. Did I love photography? Not really. I was often frustrated that the images I envisaged were not the ones that arrived through the post once the film had been developed.
Photography wasn’t encouraged and it was many years later that I learned how to control a camera. My teens were spent learning about drama and acting, which is where my professional career started.
Directing and editing videos
By my mid-20s I was working full-time for a media production company directing and producing corporate videos. Some of these were social documents such as: a conservation project led by the Wildlife Trust, the history of the Co-operative Society, the achievements of a disbanded Army Regiment, the working day of a Police force, and the renovation of a historical building in central London. That’s also when I rediscovered photography and spent the time learning how to use the camera as a tool.
A photographer, of sorts
In my 30s photography was an accompaniment to walks, holidays and days out. In my 40s I was doing street and wildlife photography, enjoying both of them enormously. I also combined photography with my writing work and even created videos for clients using still images that I had taken.
I’ve always been a story teller. I’ve acted in, and directed plays, I’ve written hundreds of scripts for videos and even more for presentations, which is why now, at the age of 48, I want to really understand what it means to be a documentary photographer. How it is different from what we understand as ‘street photography’? How can documentary photography be used as a catalyst for change, which it undoubtedly has.
Here, on the pages of this blog, is going to be where I reflect on what it means to be a documentary photographer. The obvious starting point is to consider what documentary photography is.