The history of Photography has shown us that its relationship with showcase the truth has been very close. Documentary Photography can be easily traced back when Wall Street fell in October of 1929 and the Great Depression began, and since then we can state that documentary photography has been responding to moments of social crisis.
One particular happening that triggered Documentary Photography as we know it today, was the creation of the Farm Security Administration (FSA) thanks to the New Deal Legislation Program. This institution established a historical section that had the prime goal of documenting and pleading for government aid with the guidance of Roy Stryker. He was a key figure in the configuration of the appearance and purpose of the photographs made by the FSA and launched the careers of some famous photographers as Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, Gordon Parks, Walker Evans and many others.
Another social behaviour that has feed Documentary Photography are wars. World War II exploded right at the moment when Photography celebrated its centenary. The heavy wooden field cameras used by Mathew Brady and others to document the aftermaths of the battle fields had evolved to the famous compact 35mm cameras used in World War II. Due to the evolution of the format, photography could manage to capture live action instead of just the aftermaths. This revolved the world of press and here is when we can assure that gear cameras started to be an important tool of Documentary and Journalism.
Let’s look back to the latest World Press Photo awards, and even though Canon’s and Nikon’s heavy DSLR systems (Canon’s are even heavier) are the kings, the appearance of lightweight mirror less camera systems is more notorious.
Small and portable cameras open the world of photographic possibilities even more. Heavy DSLR cameras are still a popular choice among photojournalists due to their robustness and weather sealing capabilities. But since we are talking about a larger genre in photography, let’s look at another population segment inside Social Documentary Photography, the more casual ones. National Geographic releases a yearly research in which they unveil the most popular cameras for travellers. I’ll not speak about them all but just about those systems that are “double checked” by both institutions.
FUJIFILM X-T SERIES
Mirror less Interchangeable Camera with weather-resistant body that resembles the good old SLR camera bodies. The latest camera inside this series is the Fujifilm X-.
OLYMPUS OM-D SERIES
With a three years legacy, the OM-D system is still pretty competitive. Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera system with a lot of great features, and Weather-sealed body. I have had the opportunity of playing around with one of these with this lens attached to it, and the results are indeed overwhelming. The latest camera inside this series is the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II.
FUJIFILM X100 SERIES
This is not just a great looking camera, but a tremendously powerful inconspicuous one as well. The X100 system joys of it’s fourth generation release, and is a favourite among street photographers. It is also the known to be the “first electronic rangefinder” camera to exist. Fujinon has crafted these to great adapters that will open the possibilities without losing any quality aspect in the process. The latest camera of this breed is the Fujifilm X100F (F stands for fourth).
SONY RX100 SERIES
A Powerful Point and Shoot. Sony has been shaking the camera world with their latest innovations, and even their humble systems like the RX100 are amazingly powerful. I have not been fortunate enough to play with one of these, but is something I would love to do. Ted Forbes will without a doubt explain you better the goodies about this amazing cameras system which is in its fifth generation by now.
So my theory is the following, compact yet powerful mirror less camera systems will become more usual in Social Documentary Photography scenarios, and manufacturers have to pay close attention to weak points such as frames per second and weather sealing enhancement opportunities. Leaving my DSLR exclusively for commercial work.