Monday, 5 March 2012

The Documentary Photographer Podcast - Episode 1: Dragan Tomas -Travellers

Does the world really need another photography podcast?

I think it does. Specifically, it needs one dedicated to documentary photography.

Start with 'Why'

Simon Sinek wrote a fine book called Start with Why. It highlights the success of endeavours that are built on a foundation of purpose. The what, when, who and how are all guided by the why.

If you listen to the first episode of this podcast, you'll hear me give a few very brief whys (some of them purely selfish) for launching it. I'll expand a little here.

I don't think documentary photography gets half the use or recognition that it deserves. The storytelling potential of documentary images remains largely untapped by governments, organizations and business.

I think there are two main reasons for this. The first is that people associate documentary photography with photojournalism, which has connotations of negative and distressing images. After all, news outlets generally peddle more gloom than cheer.

The second is that people don't really know how to use documentary photography for mainstream promotional applications. In a world in which social media has become so important, you'd think that documentary photography would be riding high. It isn't, really. Instead of insightful images, we get mundane PR shots or cosmetic advertising photographs. Marketing departments seem to shun telling real stories and letting the end user look under the bonnet. On the occasions that they do, the stories are sanitized to the point of blandness.

Someone needs to speak up for documentary photography.

It's not easy

Documentary photography is hard.

You have to create engaging photographs from circumstances and people beyond your control.

Then there are a multitude of issues surrounding choosing suitable subjects, gaining access, earning their trust and telling a genuine story.

Finally, you have to find a constructive outlet for the work - preferably before you even go into a project, but oftentimes after the fact.

The podcast will cover all of these things. It will, I hope, help photographers with their own documentary work.


The podcast will appear monthly to begin with. When I can commit sufficient resources to it, I'll put it on a fortnightly footing.

As for the content, you'll be happy to know that it won't only be me talking. In fact, I'm going to try to keep out of it as much as a host can do by interviewing other photographers about their documentary projects.

By the way, if there's a particular photographer you'd like me to try to get hold of, let me know. Equally, if there is a topic you'd like discussed, I'd love to hear from you.

Episode 1

For this, the launch episode, Cork-based photographer Dragan Tomas joins us to discuss his recent work with the traveling community in Cork City.

Press the player to hear the audio.

 Travellers © Dragan Tomas
Travellers © Dragan Tomas

***UPDATE*** If you have a Blackberry smartphone, you can subscribe to and download the podcast from the Blackberry Podcast site. I'm hoping to have the podcast available via iTunes soon as well. ***UPDATE***

***UPDATE 2*** The Documentary Photographer podcast is now also available via iTunes ***UPDATE 2***

***UPDATE 3*** The Zune catalogue has also accepted the podcast ***UPDATE 3***