Documentary Photography — Life as Art
Angie Kordic’s “Documentary Photography — Life as Art” highlights the importance and impact of documentary photography. “Through their powerful narration and visual impact, documentary photographs draw our attention to real-life socio-political situations of a certain moment, from which photographers extract an important moment and capture it with their camera.”
These photos evoke strong emotions and bring a single topic into such focus that its relevance cannot be denied. These still images have changed public opinion about war, human rights, poverty, and critical social issues of the day. They are able to capture a mood, a moment, or a movement.
This photograph of Peter Gordon changed the course of the Civil War. During the 1800’s photography was a new innovation. Newspaper rarely included photographs and the North had very limited information about slavery. Many people believed that slavery was not ideal but that enslaved people were treated humanely.
Peter Gordon escaped from his owners and joined the Union Army. His scarred back, discovered during a medical exam, was photographed. This was proof of the vicious treatment endured by enslaved people in the South. The photograph went “viral” and was copied and distributed over all over the United States. This one photograph reignited the abolitionist movement and turned the tide of public opinion against the institution of slavery.
Documentary photography has had a profound effect on how we see things and what we collectively choose to act on. These photos speak stories that we may otherwise not take the time to hear.