Exercise

Read the 1939 article on documentary photography by Elizabeth McCausland.

Write a bullet list of McCausland’s main points.

1. Written in January 1939 . A time of immense world change with events leading to World War 2. A time of austerity , poverty and inequality leading to the growth of documentary photography. Subjective photography in these uncertain times became irrelevant and superficial.
2. Documentary photography should be objective and truthful.
3. A movement towards realism grew , breaking away from the pictorialism and surrealism of the 1920’s, necessitating gritty truthful images with the aim of bringing awareness of poverty and create social change.
4. Such images are seen as honest and unbiased. They are not considered works of art and are not subjective but represent a new and modern way of capturing reality.
5. Showing social inequality is difficult due to censorship creating limitations but government sponsored projects , such as the Farm Security Administration , are considered an ideal method of recording the truth.
6. Art and documentary photography became interlinked at the beginning of the 20th Century but documentary photography is not romantic or idealised but real.
7. Social change brings new and different ways of expression. Truthful not fictionalised representations are needed.
8. A new era was emerging bringing with it differing art from the previous decades.
9. There is no limit to the subject matter but the photographers motive must be clear and remain objective.
10. An audience is needed if a story is to be told .
11. The camera can tell a story in one frame.

Explain in your own words , in a single paragraph , why this article is relevant to this part of the course.

Part 2 of the course charts the progression of documentary photography from objectivity to a method of exploring and expressing often highly personal ideas and issues. By studying historical movements it can be understood how and why it evolved into such a multi faceted genre. McCausland acknowledged how social change created new methods of working , and that photography is an ever changing medium.From a movement that aimed to bring about social change it has morphed into a platform for more individual considerations. The subject in front of the lens may be different now , frequently intimate , but I feel the underlying principle of documentary photography remains the same , it should communicate a message to a wider audience.

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