Media Guide: Documentary Photography

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For this week’s media guide, we take a look at documentary photography. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then shouldn’t powerful, affecting photographs be able to change the world?

Here are some places to start browsing for photographs which are both moving and provocative. Some of these photos showcase situations in the news, and others shed light on tragedies around the world that receive little coverage.

California Wildfires: Photo Essays
Firefighter and firetruck next to a blazing inferno | by Wally Skalij for the Los Angeles Times

Wally Skalij for the L.A. Times

As the wildfires rage on in California, newspapers have been full of photographs that document the destruction. For glimpses of the disaster, check out the L.A. Times’ photo galleries (scroll down the page and ook for the galleries on the right side), the New York Times’ slideshow and the Washington Post’s photographs.


The Stumping Grounds
An old, wrinkled woman smokes and wears Hillary for President buttons | By Keith Bedford for thestumpinggrounds.com

Keith Bedford for thestumpinggrounds.com

The 2008 Presidential Elections are a year away, and six freelance photographers have teamed up on
The Stumping Grounds, a photo blog, to give fresh glimpses of the election through a new and revealing photograph everyday. The photographs of the candidates, their supporters and campaign trails reveal a lot about the grind of electoral politics, the democratic process and America itself.

Magnum Photos
Magnum Photos, an international photography cooperative, has been synonymous with great photography since being founded in 1947. Browse its incredible website for photo essays from around the world, portfolios showcasing work from master photographers from Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson to Alec Soth and Lise Sarfat and podcasts, essay and more.

The Open Society Institute: Moving Walls
A young Lebanese girl in black and white | by Rania Matar for Moving Walls

Rania Matar for Moving Walls

The Open Society Institute launched its Documentary Photography Project in 2003, funding programs that affect social change through photography. Moving Walls, one of the projects funded, is a series traveling exhibition of photographs. The latest iteration of Moving Wall is International Moving Wall and it features photographs exposing the insides of Texas prisons, from war-torn Lebanon, opening a window to AIDS victims in Ethiopia and giving a glimpse of inside New York City mosques.

Ruiyan Xu
Ruiyan Xu
Former POVer Ruiyan Xu worked on developing and producing materials for POV's website. Before coming to POV, she worked in the Interactive and Broadband department at Channel Thirteen/WNET. Ruiyan was born in Shanghai and graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Modern Culture and Media.