The documentary impulse
Stuart Franklin took one of the most powerful photographs of the twentieth century – the ‘tank man’ in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, 1989. From his insightful position as a photographer, Franklin explores why we are driven to visually document our experiences and the world around us. He focuses on photography but traces this universal need through art, literature and science.
Looking at photojournalism, war photography and work recording our culture, Franklin identifies some of its driving impulses: curiosity, outrage, reform and ritual; the search for evidence, for beauty, for therapy; and the immortalization of memory.
As our understanding of ‘documentary’ continues to expand, Franklin considers photographic staging – where, perhaps, the future of the genre may lie: in search of truth over fact.
“This book traces what I shall call the documentary impulse. Here I mean the passion to record, with fidelity, the moments we experience and wish to preserve, the things we witness and might want to reform; or simply the people, places or things we find remarkable… Photography (and journalism) practised respectfully has the power to educate us all towards a greater understanding and empathy towards others.” ?Stuart Franklin
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