Blurring the distinction between fact and fiction

Documentary photography tends to focus on the other as serious subject matter, from exotic natives adorning the pages of National Geographic to victims of the system or sufferers of disease or abjection. As Mary Panzer observed:

exotic subjects can be found at home, simply by crossing the boundaries erected by class, political affiliation and cultural taboo. Long before photography, crime and impoverishment provided highly popular subjects for illustrated books, articles, prints and engravings. Photographic studies of the streets of New York, the sewers of Paris, and the back-alleys of London, Shanghai, Calcutta and Rome continued this well-established tradition. The hellish environments created by industry provided fresh turns on old subjects, often accompanying reports on the need for reform” (2005, p 12) Continue reading “Blurring the distinction between fact and fiction”

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