David LaChapelle CREATION vs Wim Wenders DOCUMENTARY

Clare Gosling: week 6: Post two to three paragraphs reflecting on the role of the photographic document in contemporary art practices.

“We may conclude that before this period the term documentary photography would have been popularly considered tautological in that all photography not clearly differentiated as “art” or otherwise distinguished would have been understood as documentary per se.” (Solomon-Godeau, A., 1991. Photography at the Dock. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. pp 302.)

Taking into consideration the quote from Solomon-Godeau I would also argue that photography falls into two categories. The first is where the photographer tries to capture the ‘truth’ and documents what he sees. The reader also looks at these photographs knowing that he or she is seeing the documented ‘truth’ of what was ‘really’ happening in that place. A photographer I feel documents the ‘real’ surface of the earth well and who tries to capture the stark reality of places is Wim Wenders. In chapter 8 ‘Who is speaking thus?’ of Solomon-Gordeaus book he mentions ‘spaces of Palestine’ (p172), so I have chosen the following image taken by Wim Wenders to illustrate my point about capturing the truth of ‘what is really there’ in documentary photography.


The second category I feel photography falls into works in relation to contemporary art practices. This is where the photographer tries to tell the reader a story of some kind within his photograph, or he decides to take a photograph that highlights the message he wants to convey. These photographs tend to be created by making a theatrical scene of some sort. Props may be needed, a persons posture or expression is very specifically picked, and buildings are chosen carefully to convey the mood of the photograph. This photograph is created from a fantasy scenario that started in the photographers mind, and it consists of whatever he feels is needed to complete the hypothetical story. This story then becomes ‘real’ when he takes the picture and captures what he has created in front of him. The photographer who I feel is a perfect example of someone who works in this way is David LaChapelle. He photographed Isabella Blow and Alexander McQueen in a photograph called “Burning down the house” in 1997.


To conclude photography falls into one of two categories depending on how much ‘reality’ or ‘truth’ the photographer wishes to create or document within his photographs. Both examples however can be equally as interesting to look at and understand ‘what is really real’ when reading the photographs. By Clare Gosling


About Clareg

This entry was posted in clare, tp1011 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to David LaChapelle CREATION vs Wim Wenders DOCUMENTARY

  1. paula roush says:

    hi clare, I am wondering if you base your post on Edward’s (2004) ‘photography out of conceptual art chapter? In his discussion on the difference between documents and pictures that haunt photography since its beginnings, he also presents a dichotomy between Jeff Walls’ practice (work with the staged image) and Alan Sekula’s, work with the document image/ critical documentary. It will be interesting to bring to the seminar tomorrow, this distinction between documents and pictures that structures contemporary art practices!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s