Ten examples of powerful documentary photography

Photography is one of the most powerful forms of art as it has the ability to permanently frame a moment in time, whether it is an emotion, an object or an event. Documentary photography generally alludes to a mainstream type of photography used to account for occasions or conditions both critical and pertinent to history and recorded occasions just as regular day to day existence. Being the act of making a photo which is an exact portrayal of its subject, documentary photography is a lot more powerful than it’s definition would make one believe. The beauty of documentary photography is that there is no staging an event, direction or editing involved in the process.

1. Stars behind bars

Captured by Robert W.Kelly, this beautiful photograph is a portrayal of the life of the prisoners and the nature of their daily routine from an insiders perspective.

2. Tuberculosis in the former Soviet Union

A photo story gently captured by Misha Friedman, this is a strong word about tuberculosis which was a deadly disease in the former Soviet union. It was heartbreaking, the number of patients that had forms of tuberculosis that was close to being lethal.

3. Wanawake

The caption to this image is ‘to be a woman in Congo’ and is a striking photograph of a woman top-naked, shedding a tear. This photograph aims to talk about the agony of woman that die of childbirth, Statistics say that a woman dies while giving birth almost every minute.


4. Gordon Parks’s Harlem Family Revisited

A haunting photo story that comprises untold stories of poverty and hunger that drove the Harlem family to a complete disaster and eventual death

5. Struggle to Live

Another photo journal about the struggle against tuberculosis, this one was captured by James Nachtwey. The different variants of the disease spread across almost seven countries including XDR and MDR was bringing many lives to their ends.

6. Gypsies

You could say that this picture is quite deceiving with its quirky and happy vibe as it is a picture that aimed at voicing the search of hope and survival instincts of people. Taken by Josek Koudelka, the picture features three skinny boys flexing their ribs depicting the starvation for food.

7. Agent Orange Vietnam

The Vietnam war and the post calamity had severe effects on the inhabitants of the place. Agent orange which was sprayed on agricultural lands during the war had an adverse effect on the human gene. This picture depicts the disabilities that Agent orange caused for newborns.

8. Acid Violence

In the year of 2008 there were close to 180 acid attacks and close to sixty per cent of the victims of these attacks were women or children. Photographed by Stijn Peter this is a soulful picture displaying the pain of an acid attack victim.

9. Srebrenica 2011

A heartbreaking picture of a woman crying out loud and being helped up by her fellow sufferers. This was shot during the critical condition in the country when there was a genocide in the dangerous war zone

10. Bhopal Gas Tragedy

The most disastrous industrial even that happened to India in 1984 caused so much devastating destruction. Even years after the occurrence there the aftermaths could be seen through deconstructed DNA causing deadly mutations. This powerful picture was shot by Raghu Rai and is one of the most powerful photos that depict the effects of the gas tragedy.

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