Documentary, Performance and Fictions

Summary of the reader:

Documentary strategies that are both ‘truthful’ and ‘subjective’. Traditional thinking supports the idea that documentary photography are pieces of evidence, or supporting evidence to real stories and events, not choreographed or prompted by the photographer. Is this ever the case? In reconstructing reality, the experienced ‘objectivity’ comes to show. Still the photographs are seen as documentary because the photograph itself is considered real and true. Hunter: Use of fictional elements doesn’t necessary make it less truthful than straight documentary. Hunter purposefully brings in fiction, without undermining its core real foundations.

Interview ‘Under the Influence’:

Hunter’s view on photography and the environment he lived in changed when he started working with large format cameras, from then on he started to look at his neighbourhood in terms of ‘colour and light’, which reveals the beauty and dignity of his subjects. Influenced by Dutch master Vermeer, Hunter realized to portray a dignity in the life of his subjects, who before then had mainly been photographed in a negative, black and white way. Through his work everybody is treated equally, ‘scenes are lifted in the extraordinary’

I like what Hunter says about the work of Vermeer, he touches a snare that I have often felt while photographing in Third World countries: ‘His paintings (Vermeer’s) stand as a testament to a profound understanding of the universality that connects us all as human beings to one another by the small details of every day lives … he lifted the ordinary in the extraordinary.’

Article ‘Think Global, Act Local’:

This article focuses on how Hunter’s work shows that photographers can respond to the world photographically through showing life on a local level. I liked how Hunter explains that through the common notion of beauty, that has been conditioned through the history of art, gravity is added to ordinary scenes and people. This opens up to more understanding and dignity of the people he photographs and helps his viewers to engage more in the scene.

This reminded me a bit of Avedon’s view on his portraits, which he called documentary because of the recognition viewers might feel when seeing his subjects, but I find Hunter’s work much stronger and justifiable documentary photography. He leaves his subjects in their context and lets its viewers engage and identify with them through the use of beauty in light and colour.

BBC. (2017). Tom Hunter, Under the Influence, Under the Influence, The Essay – BBC Radio 3. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Mar. 2017]. (2017). Think Global, Act Local | Tom Hunter. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Mar. 2017].





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