THE DOCUMENTARY IMPULSE

THOUGHTS ON STUART FRANKLIN’S BOOK, THE DOCUMENTARY IMPULSE

Photography vs Painting

Stuart Franklin believes that there isn’t much difference between photography and painting. The need to capture an event, i.e. to transfer an image onto a flat surface, is common to both disciplines. What he seems to overlook is how that need is triggered by the respective crafts.

A painter draws from imagination and memory — unless the painting is based on a staged act — whereas the photographer captures the reality as is, at once.

Of course, even the photographer can set up the photograph based on a staged set. I would assume that if that’s the case, then it’s not documentary photography anymore. Franklin doesn’t seem to agree:

Documentary is not something fixed in a moment, but a creative process full of contradictions about photography, documentary, reality, and truth.

(Grierson accepted that) staged filmed events, fiction and – by extension – paintings, relief-carvings, and so forth were as valid as photographs in revealing intimate knowledge of, actually, the facts of the matter.

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