In this talk from 2016, photojournalist Billy Weeks shares insight into what he sees as the two “views” involved in documentary photography. By intersecting at the point of the lens, a good photograph captures both.
“My photography is a combination of the photographer’s background and the subject’s present day.” Week explained.
The subject’s view : A subject’s position in a photograph is fairly self-evident. In documentary photography, the subject’s present situation should resonate through the lens.
It always helps for the photographer to relate to their humanity. Capturing eyes and a personality can help shed light on social issues because a human element is something we can all necessarily relate to and sympathize with.
“The still photograph is one of the strongest communication elements in the world” Weeks shared.
The photographer’s view : The photographer’s story is always a crucial part of his work and the outcome of it. Weeks had two goals, one to be photographer and the other to play third base for the Atlanta Braves.
Though his dream to play baseball for a big league didn’t come true, his love for the sport had always remained. When Weeks had the opportunity to photograph the sport later on he did so, but with a deeper appreciation, leading him to real and stunning shots.
Another example to the connection of the photographer’s view was when Weeks had been booked to shoot the American military in El Salvador. He had called his dad prior to the trip, wishing him a Happy Father’s Day and in return his father advised him to be safe and take great photographs. Weeks had got news upon landing that his Father had suffered from a stroke and that he was to be put on the next flight back to be with him. From then on he made a promise to return to Central America one day and fulfill those great photographs his father asked of him. “Every assignment needs to be finished.” His personal dedication, rather than just the subjects story is what brought forth such amazing photographs time and time again.
“My photographs are my autobiography, they show where I have been and who I have met. In the end, I am always photographing myself.” – Billy Weeks