What is "Social Documentary" Photography?

The term “Social Documentary Photography” is my vision for the genre commonly known as “street photography.” If you ask ten photographers to define “street photography”, you’ll probably get something like 25 different answers.  To me it means showing ordinary people in ordinary places doing extraordinary things. My passion is to create the scene so that the viewer has an emotional reaction to it.  It may make you smile; it may make you frown; it may shock you; it may remind of fun times or hard times.  Different viewers may have different reactions to a photo and that’s ok.  I want you to feel something.  

A photographer friend once told me he thinks there are two types of photographers: technical photographers and emotional photographers.  A technical photographer would research a scene, decide on the best time of day to get a certain type of light, experiment with different camera settings and lenses and use the digital darkroom to create the image that makes a viewer stop and investigate the intricacies of the scene.  The emotional photographer, although not eschewing the technical side of photography (more on that in a subsequent blog), is more interested in creating the photo that makes a viewer stop and go “wow.”  Of the two, I’m an emotional photographer.    

I create a scene by walking through an area and observing what is going on around me.  The scene unfolds by itself, sometimes in an instant and sometimes I just have to wait for it to happen.  I was in Sorrento, Italy recently totally mesmerized by the town itself when I turned a corner and to my amazement I saw a bride and groom, she in her wedding dress and he in his tuxedo casually strolling through the streets (that seems to be a thing in Sorrento – I saw two such couples on the same day).  Just that scene alone I thought was good enough, but I waited and watched them stroll into an alley towards a gelato store. OMG – wedding gelato!!!!  As they were standing at the counter with their backs to me I fired off a few shots.  The groom must have heard the shutter click because he turned towards me. Click there was THE shot.  

Bride and groom celebrating with Gelato. Sorrento Italy.

Bride and groom celebrating with Gelato. Sorrento Italy.

In my next blog installment I’ll talk about creating a multi-photo set in one area.  Until then keep clicking.