Documentary photographers combine visual art and storytelling to provide an objective look at other people's lives. A documentary photographer must master both the technical aspects of photography and the ethical and artistic sides, and may exhibit in a gallery, work for a news outlet or work on commission for an individual or organization.
Because documentary photography jobs are so varied, the education for this profession needs to cover a lot of ground. While a photo documentary is frequently considered art, documentary photographers often follow the same methods and principles as press photographers, because of the candid nature of their photography. Documentary photography education and training options include:
- Earning a degree or certificate in documentary photography
- Signing up for a documentary photography workshop
- Taking community-oriented classes and seminars
Find documentary photography schoolsIf you're planning on a full-time career in documentary photography, seek an academic degree or certificate.
Academy of Art University offers bachelor of fine arts and master of fine arts degrees in photography, including courses in documentary photography. The undergraduate and graduate programs are offered in-person and online.
Attend documentary photography workshopsIf you're already a photographer -- professional or amateur -- documentary photography workshops can help you refine your skills and add new techniques to your repertoire.
Find documentary photography information through community-oriented programs and coursesIf you're considering a career in documentary photography, community-oriented programs can introduce you to the subject, help you decide if that's the right field for you, and serve as a foundation for more advanced education.
Marion Center for Photographic Arts at the College of Santa Fe is open to both traditional and non-degree-seeking students. Courses offered include "Documentary: World in Words" and "Documentary: Visual Storytelling." The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University offers a summer "Introduction to Documentary Studies" workshop designed both for students seeking the Certificate in Documentary Studies at CDS and for non-degree-seeking students wishing to learn more about documentary photography ideas and history.