Research provides the backbone for any photographic venture, whatever the genre, but in the case of documentary photography and its associated genres, it’s crucial. Plus the fact that undertaking research can provide further inspiration and lead to new discoveries and avenues of enquiry. In any competitive business, it’s standard procedure to research a market and look for works on the same, or a similar, topic or theme. This can prove invaluable as a point of reference and to see how different photographers and visual artists choose to approach and represent their ideas.
A while ago I wrote a post comparing photographic works investigating themes of Flying, Suspension and Dancing with links to examples. To welcome in 2010, I am inviting you to look at two books on the Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes (SAPE) – the Society of Funlovers and Elegant People – a stylish group of men hailing from Pointe-Noire in the Democratic Republic of Congo. One is shot by Daniele Tamagni, Gentleman of Bacongo, and is published by Trolley Books, while the other, SAPE, by Francesco Giusti, is published as a result of the photographer winning 1st Prize Documentary Jury Vote in the Viewbook Photo Story 2009 Awards. Look out for Tamagni who is will be featured in the next issue of HotShoe magazine, Feb/March.
La Sape feature in a BBC4 Storyville documentary from 2004, The Importance of Being Elegant, and there’s an interview with director-producers, Cosima Spender and George Amponsah, who discuss “Papa Wemba and the cult of the cloth” – Just click on the links in bold. Dylan Jones, editor GQ, has also written about the ‘sapeurs’ in Look Sharp, (The Guardian newspaper, Saturday 14 March 2009).
What’s more, if you visit Viewbook Photostory, you can look at a variety of work – over 550 examples – in the two competition categories, Documentary and Conceptual. It could be time well spent. Worth checking out is David Favrod’s work, Gaijin, (meaning foreigner in Japanese) which won 1st Prize Conceptual Jury Vote and 2nd Prize Conceptual Public Votes. The Viewbook PhotoStory showcases the ten winning photographic narratives of the Viewbook PhotoStory 2009 Awards.