Street vs Documentary Photography

If like me, you’ve been staying in during the pandemic, my suggestion is to spend time looking at the work of other street photographers and identifying the things that you like or dislike to give yourself ideas of areas to explore once you’re able to safely go out and shoot the streets.

Protest Photography
Occupy Wall Street 34, New York City, November 2011

On the other hand, if you’ve been out on the streets shooting the Black Lives Matters demonstrations, I applaud your work and I do hope that you are staying safe and social distancing.

There is however a distinction to be made between street photography and documentary photography. In street photography you are setting out to take photos which you cannot predict who or what you will encounter.

Protest Photography
Occupy Wall Street 35, New York City, November 2011

In documentary photography you are already planning on capturing a certain subject in your photos. You already have an idea about what you’re likely to see.

While street and documentary photography are both valid photographic genres, street is always candid and frequently documentary will also be candid. You bring yourself and your thoughts and ideas to shooting either. You approach the two in a different manner.

Protest Photography
Occupy Wall Street 30, New York City, November 2011

I took the photos included in this post at the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in New York City in 2011.