Recent Documentary Articles

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone With a Long Lens

As someone who shoots 90 percent of my professional work with wide lenses, it seems like a daunting tasking to go reaching for a 70-200mm or longer when looking to capture a landscape. Long lenses require a lot more thought in how the compression is going to affect the way the viewer sees the image and its a focal length that the human eye can’t really grasp until you look through the viewfinder. With that being said, learning to use these long focal lengths will go a long way in making us more versatile in our craft. Lucky for us, Thomas Heaton has decided to make a video specifically about this.

Is 'Shot in the Dark' Netflix’s Most Tasteless Show of 2017?

Netflix’s new eight-part documentary “Shot in the Dark” casts focus on three rival Los Angeles-based video journalists as they chase down the “story of the night,” all with the aim to sell their footage to the news outlets for the morning news. But as the city consumes itself through the night, does the slick production fail to address the morality of the journalists altogether in the hunt for a "Grand Theft Auto"-style brand of entertainment?

Photographer Danny Wilcox Frazier Documents Struggling Rural Life in New Adobe Documentary

Adobe just released a delightful mini-documentary showcasing the work of award-winning Photojournalist Danny Wilcox Frazier. Frazier’s work is centralized on struggling rural communities and the families and stories within. He’s able to capture both the struggles of day-to-day life of underprivileged families while still documenting the successes of perseverance.

little girl looking through fence. toddler on hands and knees outside. black and white photo of a child looking at two horses in a field.

I created a photobook with captions, for my sister, featuring her two daughters. I had never created an album or photobook before, so I wasn’t sure how to organize the shots. Added to that, the photos were taken over a four week period. So, how did I combine all these to make a cohesive narrative? I wrote a bedtime story.

Filmmaker Matt Mangham's 'Analog' Series Is Back With Episode 4

Filmmaker Matt Mangham has been working on an ongoing series entitled “Analog: Stories of Film Photography,” and I’m very excited to share episode four with the Fstoppers community. In this episode, Mangham explores creativity through the eyes of San Diego native, Matthew Lawless.

Seeing Is Believing: Native America's Dire Need for the Camera

Over 56 million acres of land in the United States is owned and controlled by approximately 500 Native American tribes that received federal recognition and sovereign land from the U.S. government. Living on this land, although a blessing, has made us invisible to the public eye. In addition to the geographical invisibility, our history, modern culture, and social issues have been swept under the rug for decades by mainstream media and the U.S. government. They typically stay out of the reservations altogether, but unfortunately, people can't fix a problem unless they view it with their own eyes, after all, "seeing is believing." This is the reason our own cameras are crucial to healing our indigenous communities.

Documenting Unique Traditions Across the Globe

At first look, this image can evoke a sense of fear of some post-apocalyptic chaos. However, if you are are a documentary photographer it might remind you of the long held traditions that symbolize the start and end of religious customs.

Photographer Behind the Iconic Windows XP Desktop Image Is Back With Three New Free Smartphone Wallpapers

Over twenty years ago Chuck O'Rear took a photo that soon became part billions of peoples everyday lives. He captured Bliss on his way to see his girlfriend, he pulled over when he spotted the perfect scene in Sonoma County California. On the side of the road with his medium format camera, he took what would soon become the most viewed image of all time as a staple of Microsoft. After twenty-one years of unimaginable fame, O'Rear is back with a tribute to the epic American nature and a reminder for us all to cherish our earth's beauties.

Let's Make a Short Social Documentary Film

Short documentary films have the power to reveal a unique story, inspire with insights and even motivate change in the brief duration. How easy or difficult it is to make one? In this post, we will discuss the steps involved in making a short social documentary film.

Polaroid Feature-length Documentary: 'Instant Dreams'

"Instant Dreams" is a feature-length film about Polaroid that explores the magic of this defunct format, the pioneer of instant imagery, and documents the search for the lost chemical formula. Premiering at the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam a few days ago, the film discusses what it meant to produce imagery that is physical, unique, and, as one of the subjects puts it, "an artifact of time."

How These 3-Minute Short Social Documentary Films Are Changing Lives

The power of visual storytelling to create an impact in the real world is plentiful. Of late, there is this new format of social short films that are catching up and seeding change in its own ways. How strong is the impact that these short social documentary films make?

From Wedding Photography, How We Started a Documentary Filmmaking Brand

What we do in our free time is often connected to our innate passion. Such one random act of passion led us to launch a social documentary filmmaking brand. A lot of us, especially wedding photographers, have this bandwidth of free time where we are not shooting any weddings. In this off-season, do the things we do sum up to make a difference? This post is about how we chose to make short social documentary films and how transforming the experience was on the whole.

White House Photographer Pete Souza Releases New Book from Obama Era

When I photograph events, I do my best to become a “fly on the wall.” I try to stay out of the way, to be unobtrusive, to not affect what’s happening around me and just document what I see. To be a photographer in the White House and be a fly on those walls — surrounded by high stress, classified this and that, diplomats, dignitaries, tragedies, and achievements, while being charged with capturing all of it, 24/7/365 — would obviously be a job that would take all you’ve got. And to do it for not one, but two presidents? That’s nuts. But there’s one guy who did it. His name is Pete Souza.

Nikon Ambassador Reveals Why He Prefers to Shoot With Prime Lenses

Swedish Documentary Photographer and Filmmaker Pieter Ten Hoopen has a passion for photography that seems to grow much like his success in the industry. This success can be supported by a quick reference to his resume, which boast clients such as the New Yorker and New York Times Magazine and also by his status as a Nikon Ambassador.

Filming a Documentary in the Mongolian Wilderness for Three Weeks

San Francisco-based photographer Jeff Colhoun spent the last three summers in Mongolia documenting the activity of various environmental protection projects. The Genghis Khan nation is a huge country with a thin population of three million inhabitants spread out across a vast territory. The remoteness of the place is what made this assignment both appealing and challenging. Here is the story of this photographic journey.

How to Improve Your Documentary Photography

Although I now work in the commercial world, my passion started with documentary photography. I was, and still am, obsessed with Annie Leibowitz’s work with the Rolling Stones and I loved William Egglestone’s color observations of the mundane world he found himself in. When I find a free day, there is nothing that I enjoy more than walking out with my camera to document someone else's life. However, unlike the plethora of studio lighting tutorials available, there seems to be a real lack of articles on documentary photography. Here are six tips on how to improve your images.

Irish Photographer Debuts a Grittier London in New Exhibition

Gregory Nolan doesn’t just have old photos, he’s got an extensive look into the abrasive music scene of London’s 00s. He’s recently dusted off the old hard drives and brought the best of 100,000 photos to the public.

Captivating Historic Photographs of Native Americans From the Early Twentieth Century

It started in the year 1900 with a trip to Montana to photograph the ritual Sun Dance of the Blackfoot Tribe, and ended with photographer Edward Curtis having photographed 100 Native American tribes, producing 2,200 photographs that would come to comprise a 20 volume anthology called "The North American Indian," bankrolled by investor J.P. Morgan to the tune of $75,000. In the article written by Elisabeth Sherman for All That Is Interesting, you can see 33 of his most stunning portraits.

Joey L. Releases Free Documentary 'Born From Urgency'

You probably know Canadian-born photographer and director Joey Lawrence for his beautifully lit commercial work and equally as impressive A-List celebrity portraits. In recent years Lawrence has shifted gears to document the Kurdish guerrilla organizations fighting against ISIS. Today a free documentary film and fine art book have been released to show conflict up close like you may have never seen it before.

Flight Attendant's Photographs Give Insight Into the Lives of Virgin America's Flight Crews

Documentary photographer Molly Choma began working for Virgin America fresh out of college. Working as a flight attendant, Choma got an inside perspective on the lives of those who work in the sky. Working for Virgin throughout her twenties, Choma began bringing a camera with her on her shifts, documenting the lives of her fellow flight attendants. In 2019, Virgin America will merge with Alaska and no longer exist as we know it. Now a professional documentary photographer, Choma is looking back at her work with Virgin's flight crews.

Hearing From the Architect: Nowness Explains the Beauty of a Home

When it comes to homes and designs like this, they need to be shown in a way that makes them unique. Emile Rafael from Nowness is by far one of the best at showing these homes and giving us a brief overview of why they are designed in such a way. Over the past year or so, I have shot for several real estate agents, seen many homes, and have learned to appreciate different things about each and every one.

How Brooklyn Beckham Became the Photographer That He is Today

Rising photographers born into a family of considerable means and influence have received quite a bit of hate from social media, and often times without reason. No one truly knows what someone such as Brooklyn Beckham has gone through to get where he is. Perhaps his way up was just as complicated as anyone. Perhaps it was not, and he’s lucky to have the background and family he does. It doesn’t change the fact that his work is far from terrible and, as the follower video shows, that is just like all of us, a passionate photographer.

Breathtaking Hunt for the Perfect Polar Bear Photography in Arctic

Photographing wild animals in their natural environment is very rewarding and one of the most beautiful experiences that a nature photographer can live. Actually, that most photographers could live. Being face to face with a polar bear with nothing but a camera in between is both extraordinarily breathtaking and scary. Wild nature photographer Joshua Holko, filmmaker Abraham Joffe, and cinematographer Dom West went to the Arctic and documented this experience so that we could try to relive it with them.

Powerful Photographs from Charlottesville Protests

Photographs taken by intrepid photojournalists and documentary photographers have been informing the public and galvanizing people to take action on social issues for over one hundred years. The disturbing images coming out of the recent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia are a powerful reminder of how much impact an image can have, and how much responsibility a photographer bears when telling a story.

Photographer Monica Jane Frisell Travels Across America in an RV Making Portraits with a Vintage 4x5 Camera

Photographer Monica Jane Frisell has spent the last four months living out of a renovated 1988 Toyota Seabreeze, traveling across the United States with her scrappy terrier Lou and a Zone VI 4x5 camera for her project “Looking Forward/Portraits from an RV.” I caught up with her to talk about the project, life on the road, and the process of shooting large format film.

'Killing the Rock' - Escaping Civil War Through Creativity

The best photographs and films don’t just bring beautiful visuals to the table. They also place story right at the center of their very make up. “Killing The Rock” (KTR) is a five minute demonstration of this, and reminds us of how commitment to our craft combined with small collaborative like-minded souls can tell stories that go deeper and reach further than we ever could going at it alone.

Effective Techniques for Video Recording Interviews

Interviewing interesting people can be an awesome experience that when done right, will provide impactful insight to your next video project. When done wrong however, you may find yourself asking the client for a do-over or spending hours in the editing room cleaning up mistakes.

See Inside the 'Hermit Kingdom' of North Korea With This Surreal Photo Series

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has long warned tourists of “arrest and long-term detention.” Despite the threat, around 100,000 people visit the hermit kingdom annually. In 2016, Photographer Raphael Olivier was one of those people. Here we showcase some of his most surreal photos from the trip.

The Artist Series Season 2 Coming Up

The trailer has me excited. Passionate artists opening up and taking the time to share their work with us. Five photographers, Keith Carter, Graciela Iturbide, David Brookover, Lourdes Grobet, and Pedro Meyer are interviewed, and the amazing part about it is that the whole series was funded by the photographic community. Ted Forbes is theman behind The Art Of Photography YouTube channel, and this video is shared by him. I'm not sure what role he played in it, but I believe it will be significant, as it's one of the good channels to watch for us photographers.

Silent Killers: The Power Of Photography to Change the Oceans

Photography is one of the most powerful tools used in influencing and changing perspectives. All across social media are images that move the emotion range from tugging at heartstrings to enraging the senses. So when one photographer needed to convey the message of the threats to ocean life she turned to photography.

The Story Behind 'Migrant Mother' One Of The Most Famous Photographs Of All Time

Perhaps no single photo is more symbolic of America’s troubles during the Great Depression than Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother.” Depicting an itinerant farm worker, Florence Owens Thompson, and five of her children apparently in the grips of despair on the side of the road, this single image came to surmise an entire era.

Do You Need to Be a Dick to Be a Successful Leader?

Think about some great leaders that you know. Are they kind of an a-hole? Film Director Max Joseph noticed a trend in the industry where it seemed as though the more abrasive and cutthroat someone was, the more successful leader they were. After his own experiences directing a film, he decided to explore this topic and produced an entertaining and insightful documentary about what it takes to get to the top. If you've ever directed a film, video, or photoshoot, there are quite a few nuggets of inspiration in this short that might help you to become a better leader yourself on your next project. Warning, some language is NSFW.

Making the Most of a Simple Shoot

I was hired to shoot graduation photos for a client recently, a particular job that certain photographers may be at odds with accepting. Simply put, it’s one of those gigs that can be hard to get motivated for if it isn’t your style. As a working photographer however we must all make decisions with our career and in my case, work is work regardless of the genre. So how can you take something as simple as a graduation shoot and turn it into an experience? Here are a few tips.

From Dock to Dish: A Beautiful Documentary Shot on the New Canon C200

As with every new product, Canon sponsors a number of projects to show the capabilities of their upcoming C200 cinema camera. Indeed, it has great features at its price level, but what is a great camera without a good example how it was used? The perfect film marriage is between a beautiful story, captivating visuals, and audio that ties it altogether. I think we have them all here, including a glimpse of how it was done behind the scenes.

Planning and Executing Impromptu Location Portraits

I recently travelled to the local racetrack with my brother for an open track day and decided that while he was out riding, I would try to make a few portraits of the other attending riders. I spent plenty of time ahead of the trip planning lighting, gear, locations, and more. This is a step by step walkthrough of how I created this series of portraits.

New York City Through the Eyes of Teenagers

Photography, since its inception, has always been used as a tool to document a moment in time that the photographer believes has value. From modern history's defining moments, like World War II or the speeches of Martin Luther King, to seemingly mundane family moments, photography has captured billions of such moments in human history that may never repeat. Recently, Gareth Smit produced a short film on three young documentary photographers from New York City.