Being a professional photographer is often seen as a glamorous career – and it certainly can be. But how far would you be prepared to go to enter the real-life world of documentary?
Photographer Michael Coyne challenges us in this issue of Better Photography. He begins with a quote from Jean Gaumy: "I only have one hand to keep my balance, the other is for the camera. I still hurt from yesterday’s fall. It’s hard to get from one point to the other on deck.”
French photographer Jean Gaumy, started documenting deep sea fishing in the early 1970s and continued through to 1998 which resulted in the book, Pleine Mer: Men at Sea. In his book, Gaumy describes how he shared the fierce conditions of the fishermen who worked on open-deck trawlers as he captured the harsh reality of their life at sea.
“My famous weatherproof bag is pathetically ineffective. Impossible to work fast. I would rather run the risk and use simple garbage bags to protect against sea spray. A single, slightly violent wave is all it would take to drown the equipment,” Gaumy wrote.
Working as a documentary photographer means that you must become engaged and connected with your subjects. You must get close to them and experience their everyday life, even if this means, as it often does, stepping outside your comfort zone. A handful of qualities and skills are necessary to produce great documentary work: an inclination for networking and the ability to undertake research go a long way, as does an aptitude for doggedness, patience, passion and the willingness to step into a world that is alien to your normal routine."
And what else? Read more of Michael's insights in the current issue of Better Photography (Issue 107). Click on the link below to subscribe - plus you get immediate access to over 50 back issues full of super informative material and inspirational ideas! Use coupon code BP40 to get 40% off - just $29.88 for an annual subscription.