J. Michael Whitaker Photography

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Goals, Philosophies and Structures of

Personal Documentary Photography Projects

Ellie_in_Mist.jpg
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From my perspective, personal documentary photography is a deliberate process resulting from collaborative interactions between client and photographer regarding project goals, philosophies and structures toward achieving desired outcomes for specific projects.  Some of my goals, philosophies and structures include:
 
  1.  I need to become well-versed in advance of the nature of the photo event and all related expectations.  Prior to the first photo being taken, all efforts will be made to establish mutual understanding regarding expectations, which will be delineated in writing prior to the photo event.
  2. I need to immerse myself into the flow of the activities based on the client's perspective.  My photography is based on my personal way of viewing of the world so it is important to understand how my way of viewing of the world may be used to produce the client's desired product.
  3. My style of shooting documentary photos involves minimizing distractions, essentially trying to become invisible to persons being photographed.  I believe individuality contains wonderment that is best captured in photographs when individuals are least concerned about being photographed and/or about managing self-presentation.  Some of my best documentary photos have caught individuals being themselves without knowing their photos were being taken.  Such conditions result in images that truly celebrate the wonderment of individuality, which greatly enhances the overall quality of the final documentary product.
  4. Consequently, I prefer taking photos without using flash equipment since I consider flashes to be distracting from the documentary process.  This may mean using all available lights or utilizing additional lighting to optimize photographic opportunities.
  5. I strongly believe, unless color is the essence of photographic subjects, that color distracts from the essence, particularly as such relates to individuals.  Consequently, I generally recommend black-and-white images should be used for all fine art prints of individuals but will provide color photographs upon request for fine-art prints or for photos to be posted on social media websites.
  6. A certain amount of coordination is required to complete documentary photo projects. With personal documentary projects the responsibility for all project coordination will be the responsibility of the client.  Of specific concern are situations where photographs will be taken in public or private locations where permission is required from persons in charge and/or property owners.  In all such situations, the client is responsible for securing written permission to shoot in all non-owned indoor or outdoor locations where permission is required.
Regardless whether your desired final product is a CD containing low resolution images to be placed on the internet, large fine-art prints to be displayed in family/business galleries or a published, print-on-demand book, all project efforts will be geared toward creating a final product that will exceed client expectations.  My ultimate goal is to create final products that celebrate the wonderment of the individuality of every iinvolved person and/or the unique character of every business/organization.  Such will be accomplished only through the collaborative efforts of the client and photographer.
 
 

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