Category Archives: Documentary Photography

Main Assignment Evaluation

Overall I am satisfied with my final project and believe it portrays a message of the responsibilities the workers must do to look after these marine mammals. I also believe that these photographs would help raise public awareness on seal rescues if published for the National Geographic Publication.
The photographs I did come out with gave an overall feel of what takes place behind the scenes of the sea life sanctuary, along with the roles the animal care workers do for there seals. I also successfully showed the seals interactions with the visitors who seemed to enjoy the experience.
However, on the occasion I was unable to capture photographs of the workers interacting with the seals, like the one Peter Dejong captured of the workers feeding and nursing seal pups in the Netherlands. If I came out with an image like this it would have been the perfect photograph that sums up the documentary, unfortunately this wasn’t to be.


Final Assignment Appraisal

My final project required me to produce a documentary feature that would be suitable for publication in a magazine, newspaper or website. In the world of documentary photography it’s essential to negotiate into somewhere in order to acquire the best outcomes, therefore this was the route I decided to take. The idea for my main assignment came to mind when watching television one day; I came across an advert about adopting a seal and how threatened they had become. This gave me the idea of producing a documentary on seal rescue. I remembered once visiting Scarborough’s Sea Life Sanctuary and their programme involving the rescue, treatment and rehabilitation of seals back into their natural habitat.
The Sea life sanctuary is home to a vast number of sea creatures including sharks, turtles, jellyfish, otters, penguins and seals.
In order to carry out a detailed documentary I researched into other photographers work, as this would aid me in my approach and the structuring of my project.
Photographer Peter Dejong was commissioned by Associated Press to capture photographs of baby seals that are kept in a seal-rehabilitation centre in the Netherlands. These seals were washed up along countries northern coastlines after torrential storms across Europe. The photographs captivated my interest and enhanced my idea further.
My chosen publication for my feature is the ‘National Geographic’ as this is a magazine that covers all aspects of the planet and inspires its readers into caring for the world we live in. The magazine is packed full of insightful and thought provoking photography and infographics, including proficiently written articles and features on wildlife, culture, geography, history and current events. The National Geographic institution cover just about anything of importance to our world, and I believe awareness on wildlife rescues is a very important to the conservation of the worlds animal species.
I contacted the sanctuary at Scarborough and spoke to a member of the animal care team giving a brief description of my proposal and asked for permission to take some behind the scene photographs of seal rescue operations. The sanctuary worker approved and said she would be happy to give me a tour of the facility.
The photographs taken are presented in black and white, as this theme is stereotypically more common in documentary photography, this sets the mood or feeling of the importance of what is taking place. I have chosen to approach my documentary feature in a way that will allow me to capture ‘behind the scenes’ activities supported with descriptions on the things that are happening within the photograph. I also intend to describe the codes and signs used in the pictures.


This is the establishing photograph I shot for my seal rescue documentary, the image shows two of the care workers behind the scenes of the sanctuary. The signifiers on this photograph are the workers and the equipment that surrounds them. They signify the workers responsibilities as the woman looks to be engaged on what essentials are contained in the box her hands are in, she looks as if she could be preparing for food prep or tidying away. The man in the photograph is glancing towards the whiteboard in concentration, perhaps reading the text that has been penned. All the tools such as the knives indicate that this is the kitchen where the workers prepare the food for the animals.


This photograph was taken behind the scenes of the sea sanctuary showing one of the animal care workers preparing the food. In this image demonstrates how the worker sets out the fish that will be fed to the seals within the food preparation area. The main signifiers in this photograph are the fish; they are the main focal point of the image and show the viewer that this is food prep. The fish, knife and table signify that this is the kitchen area and I imagine that the workers must follow strict procedures and policies when using the premises. The writing on the whiteboard looks coded, which I believe will make the viewer curious and ask questions as to what the message portrays.


This photograph is one of the captivity rooms within the Seal Rescue Centre. Seals that are sick or being rehabilitated are housed in this area. The signifier of this photograph is the room itself, and through the window is a picture of a seal, which identifies the area. The window in the image is where the visitors would view the rescued seals. Evidently there were no seals in captivity on this occasion but it certainly gives a feel of isolation however it’s important any seal being treated is kept incubated in this room to prevent further spread of disease.


The picture above also taken at the Seal Rescue Hospital shows a care worker providing multivitamin and iron tablets for the seals, which is the signifier. The carer carefully places the tablets on some tissue in order to separate the multivitamin tablets from the iron tablets. The carer also counts out the tablets before carefully placing them on the tissue, this is very important to ensure the seals receive the required dosage.
The seals are given these tablets twice a day and the young pups once a day in order to keep their bodies healthy. The tablets are administered by placing them inside the dead fish’s gills so they go unnoticed when the seals feed.


This photograph was captured on my tour with the paying visitors around the sea life centre. The intention when taking this picture was to capture the visitors interactions with the seals. The signifiers in this photograph are the seal and the visitors. They signify a communication between the people and the seal. The seal looks curious as his eyes are fixated on the mans finger. The little girl from the side angle looks to be entertained by the seal’s expression and looks like she is enjoying the whole experience.

The photographs shown depict a wide range of social codes demonstrated by the body language of the subjects. Hopefully this gets a message across to the viewer regarding the importance of the work being carried out at the sanctuary and the responsibilities of the workers involved.

Research Into Main Assignment Publication

As a photojournalist it is crucial to have an audience in mind when tailoring some images for a publication. A photojournalist must be aware of the publications readership and the demands of the consumer.
For my main assignment based on seal rescue I believe a suitable publication for these photographs would be the National Geographic publication.
The National Geographic covers every corner of the world packed full of insightful and thought provoking photography and infographics, including proficiently written articles and features on wildlife, culture, geography, history and current events. Photographs based on seal rescue should be something that people must be aware of worldwide and the National Geographic has a diverse audience, with people from all over the world reading the features.
For Many years the National Geographic society’s mission is to inspire people to care about the planet. The main purpose was to raise public awareness for the important things in our world, such as, natural places, the plants and wildlife that inhabit them and the environmental problems that threaten them.
I believe my documentary on seal rescue fits the publications mission seen as seals are one of many endangered marine mammals that are often stranded upon the shores and need our help. Images of these mammals will help raise public awareness because if the seals are not giving help they will surely not survive, which could lead onto their extinction
According to the demographics, the National Geographic’s target audience is more leaned towards females than males and more common for the younger generation around the age of 25.





Research References:





Visual Research for the Main Assignment

For the main assignment, I am required to produce a documentary feature suitable for publication in a magazine, newspaper or website.
This feature must be a documentary feature that is suitable for an existing editorial publication.
To get the best documentary images it’s crucial for a photojournalist to negotiate his/her way into somewhere, therefore this is the pathway I will take for this assignment.
After successfully capturing images behind the scenes of pub life for my Hidden Assignment, I have decided to take inspiration from this task for the main assignment.
I have managed to negotiate my way into Scarborough’s sea life sanctuary, where I aspire to put together a documentary on ‘seal rescue’ and how the workers take care of them. This will include some behind the scene images of the animal care team workers preparing food for the seals, checking water temperatures and taking care of the seal’s health.
The set of images will be tailored towards the National Geographic publication, as I believe photographs on animal rescues should be informed worldwide. The National Geographic covers every corner of the world packed full of insightful and thought provoking photography and infographics, including proficiently written articles and features on wildlife, culture, geography, history and current events.
It’s important to have an idea of what to document before the big day arrives. Below are a set of images photographers have covered based on animal rescues that will give me an idea of how to approach the assignment.

Peter Dejong

Peter Dejong is a photojournalist who has worked for the Associated Press for the last 25 years, based in Amsterdam and a member of the Supervisory Board World Press Photo Foundation (2001-2009)
Peter’s work is diverse, he has covered images in Moscow focusing on shelter for homeless children, India on the Muslim and Hindu riots, Sevastopol Russia 1992 Black Sea Fleet, Macedonia’s refuges crisis and many more.
However, Peter has also captured photographs on baby seals that were rescued from European Storms published in the National Geographic. The images show feedings and nursing for the pups.

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Eddie Howland

Eddie has photographed a variety of events that also include weddings and your standard portraits.
Eddie has photographed some images of animal rescue, the images below show a three photographs of a dog that was rescued from a badger set

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Here are a set of photographs that I also aspire to for my assignment, the photographers for these pictures are anonymous.

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Street Photographs

Following the trips to Beeston and Shipley I decided to go on further trips by myself for further practice in the build up to my main assignment and also out of my own interest.
Street/Documentary photography is my strongest area, I like to capture images that show drama and the subjects are caught off guard when the images have been taken.
These wide range of images were taken on my smartphone seen as they were taken on the spot from my travels. My mobile device goes everywhere with me and if I see anything that catches my eye then I will simply take the image from my phone. I will then use some applications like Idarkroom and Snapseed to tweak my photos.
In my opinion, smartphone devices come in great use for photographers, especially shooting street images. The mobile device can be seen as a ‘fly on the wall’ they are hardly noticed unlike your Canon or Nikon cameras.
Although mobile photographs don’t show as much quality as your camera, they are useful for capturing unexpected drama. You can be surprised what you see when walking around the streets. Below are a set of photographs that I have taken using my mobile phone from different places I have visited.

Morley Life:
These set of images really captivated me from my walk around Morley. Morley is a place I know fairly well, I went to secondary school in this small historical market town. To me these images give an insight of the types of people who live in the area and portray the personality of each individual.
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Bradford City Centre:
Some images below I captured whilst making my way through Bradford for work. One day I showed up early, so to keep myself occupied I walked through the city with my mobile to take some photographs. These images below I believe showed drama and a story as to what was happening. Bradford is a huge city in the heart of West Yorkshire so I wish I could have captured some more images on the day, unfortunately my spare time was up.
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Leeds United Football Club:
As I was born and live in Leeds I have a big interest in the football team, Leeds United. From a very young age supporting Leeds United has being a huge part of me. I have visited football stadiums all over the Uk when Leeds United have played them.
One day I would like to document football rivalry and study the behaviour of the football fans, the good and the not so good ones. Below are a set of photographs taken from Elland Road just before a match day kick off on your regular Saturday afternoon.
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Leeds United Fans on Their Outings
Below shows a set of images of Leeds fans in the pubs before the game. The images show in detail the crazy antics fans get up to and the fun banter fans have with each other. The black and white theme suits the story well, it documents the fans having a laugh, chanting, singing, messing around and most of all, supporting the team.
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ITV at Vicarage Road, Watford
on Tuesday 8th April seemed a regular outing as a Leeds fan to go watch the team play Watford. We arrived at Watfords ground ‘Vicarage Road’ 45 minutes early so I decided to take a walk round with my mobile and take some images. It came a surprise to me when I spotted two people; a woman with a microphone and notepad and a man with a video cam. I presumed they were reporters and that they were when I saw the woman asking some fans questions, which will of been about Massimo Cellino’s recent takeover of Leeds United. I grasped the opportunity to take some images of what they were doing as it showed great drama of the event. After I had finished taking photographs I approached them and asked them who they worked for. The woman replied saying they are from ITV Calendar.
This was a great experience for me as I got to study professional reporters in action before the match, it gave me an idea of how it feels and was really inspiring. Below are the photographs I captured of the ITV reporters.
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These photographs show my enthusiasm for documentary/street photography and I will continue to develop my skills within this field of photography. I know that my camera will need to be used in the long run so my images are to the best quality standard.
I feel my confidence with a camera and big lens can alert the subjects for photographing and they may give me strange looks, however, by simply asking somebody for their permission it will make it less difficult, which is something I need to work on with people.

Street Photography: Trip to Shipley

The journey to Shipley, a small town on the outskirts of Bradford West Yorkshire was another way for me to enhance my street photography skills. Shipley was a different environment to Beeston because there were more people around and they seemed much more laid back. I would know this seen as Beeston is down the road from where I live.
Below are the images I captured from my trip.
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The Hidden Assignment

The Challenge

Negotiate into somewhere that is not usually seen. This must be something usually hidden from public view.
Take a set of pictures that describes what happens in this place and also expresses your point of view as a spectator in a private or forbidden world.

For this assignment, it was the most challenging yet as it would involve me negotiating my way into a place. There were so many places that I would love to negotiate my way into. Prisons and community service workers were top of my list but I realised that this would be a difficult route to take as rules apply, such as data protection.
Negotiating is no easy path, from my experiences of undertaking this assignment most companies of kitchens and pubs around the city all have privacy polices and will not allowed behind the scenes to be photographed in fear of being shown to the public eye.
I believe this is understandable because at first you appear a stranger to the person and it’s crucial as a photojournalist to build trust with another individual, if trust can be built then it will give me a great advantage to allowed into somewhere unknown. Although, this will depend on the type of person the photojournalist is trying negotiating with and what the project is about.
I did however, have contacts with a landlord of a local estate pub named ‘The Plantation Hotel’. I simply had a conversation with the landlord, informing him about my assignment and he allowed me to photograph behind the scenes of the pub. This included behind the bar, the cellar and kitchen. These images will give an insight to the viewer on what life is like behind the bar, the responsibilities of the bartenders and other elements shown away from public view.