Streaming Photography Documentaries

I’ve come to realize there are quite a few great streaming photography documentaries on Netflix and Amazon right now. Here’s what I’ve found!

Country: Portraits of an American Sound

This documentary does not require that you love or even like country music. It offers great insight into the history and culture of country music and the photographers who have documented country music artists over the past 80 years.

Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters

This documentary takes you behind the scenes with Gregory Crewdson and on set of his elaborate and stunning photographs. It’s really neat to see what goes in to creating Gregory Crewdson’s work.

Visual Acoustics: Julius Schulman

Narrated by Dustin Hoffman, VISUAL ACOUSTICS celebrates the life and
career of Julius Shulman, the worlds greatest architectural
photographer, whose images brought modern architecture to the American

The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography

Directed by Errol Morris, he interviews Elsa Dorfman about her 20x24 inch Polaroid photos. Elsa Dorfman said that she didn’t want to photograph people to get to know them, but to photograph the surfaces of people because to her they were responsible for what they looked like.

Generation Wealth: Lauren Greenfield

This photography documentary takes you into the lives of the rich and famous and their obsession with weath as captured by photographer, Lauren Greenfield.

Finding Vivian Maier

A documentary on the late Vivian Maier, a nanny whose previously unknown
cache of 100,000 photographs earned her a posthumous reputation as one
of the most accomplished street photographers

Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightening

One of the most famous photographs in the world, The Migrant Mother,
captured the suffering of America’s Great Depression, yet few know the
photographer behind the work: Dorothea Lange.

War and Navy Departments: A Short Guide to Great Britain

I recently obtained a shoebox full of photographs and postcards from my Grandmother, and I came across this small booklet that was military issued to the United States Military personnel on how soldiers were to behave, and what slang words to expect while stationed in Great Britain during World War II. 

I’ve scanned the booklet and saved it as a PDF located here.

Photographing Strangers

I’ve been asked a few times how I approach photographing strangers, and thought I’d share the formula that I’ve been using and have had success with.

When I first became interested in photographing strangers I wouldn’t
approach them and ask for their photo, but instead I’d try and take it
without them knowing. I quickly realized how uncomfortable that made me
feel, and how it would make them feel if they realized what I was doing.
I see photos that have been taken of strangers with crooked framing
and just no real connection with the subject and it’s not appealing to me. I’m not here to say that you must do it the way I suggest or else it makes it a bad photograph. If you prefer to not interact with someone then that’s totally fine and is what you’re comfortable with.

In this day of mobile devices and people becoming more detached from one another I wanted to
figure out how I could approach a stranger and make that human connection and photograph them. Once I figured it out and realized that most people are open to being photographed it wasn’t terribly difficult to accomplish.

I’ve always been somewhat shy, so approaching a stranger and making that initial connection was pretty difficult. However, while watching a documentary series by Louis Theroux on hypnotism I learned a formula (used in the video to pick up on women) on how to approach a stranger and strike up conversation called CIQ.

CIQ stands for Compliment, Introduce, and Question. When photographing strangers I am drawn to unique people who stand out to me and have unique style.

The way that I use CIQ is by approaching the person, Complimenting an article of clothing or their overall style, Introducing myself and what I’m doing, and then asking the Question of if they wouldn’t mind me making a photograph of them. More often than not this works and at the end I exchange info with them so that I can send them a print once it’s made.

I hope this helps you get the courage to approach others and make that human connection if that’s what you’re interested in doing. It feels good to have genuine conversations with people and I think it’s something that everyone should be making an effort to do. By no means am I an expert at this yet as I still miss opportunities where I’m not in the place to approach someone, but keep at it and you’ll eventually get comfortable with it!

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