Project 4 – Documentary as art – Paul Seawright Research

Paul Seawright grew up in Belfast amongst the ‘troubles’ of Northern Ireland.

In ‘Sectarian Murders’, he captures images of areas and places where murders of civilians took place during this time. He tends to take the images from low on the ground and generally in derelict areas, with no signs of people, to give it the point of view of the victim – allowing the view to sympathise with these innocent people.

Although the images themselves are thought provoking, by adding the text, he adds another layer of emotion to them.

On first look at the images and the text, you would see it as documentary photography, depicting and describing a scene and a ‘moment in time’. However, the more you think about the image, the more it becomes an art form. In the way Seawright has not directly captured the murders, he makes his photographs more subjective, and open to debate about how the viewer sees them, and therefore gives them a more personal feel.

Seawright argues that if images are too explicit, they become journalistic; and if they are too ambiguous, they become meaningless. Once the viewer knows the context of the images, they can resonate with them, and really see them as a form of art, and not they are just being old a story. I agree with his views; by making the images more thought provoking, they are much more memorable. If the images are more visually engaging, and not just have the feel of editorial images, they are more likely to have a bigger impact on the viewer, and in turn, allow the photographer to convey their ideas.

Dandy+Street Glencairn Roundabout

These are my three favourite images of the set. I think the presence of people, or the imminent presence of people make them feel palpable. All three locations that have been captured are just very ordinary places and if the text was not to be there; telling you what had happened, you wouldn’t give it a second glance, and that’s what makes them so haunting.


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