Street photography, documentary photography and photojournalism

A website says “Our distinguished jury will select 12 Winners and 20 Finalists from Documentary, Street, Portrait, Fine Art, Photojournalism and Open categories.”

Hmm, what is the difference between street photography, documentary and photojournalism? I decided to google about it, and I found the following:

“In the end street photography becomes how you see the world.

Street photographers may also seek to illuminate social issues, but in a way that is universal rather than specific.”


“Photojournalism images are designed for short-term audience involvement, documentary photography images for longer term study. In some ways this is historical. Photojournalism images tend to be published in newspapers, which are of course short-term in their intention and consumption. We read the newspaper and then discard it.

Documentary photography images came about through the rise of the great magazines. Time, Life, Stern all had their beginnings at the end of WWII, along with picture agencies/co-operatives like Magnum. Because these publications were designed to be absorbed more slowly, and in many cases kept (how often have you seen piles of lovingly-kept National Geographic magazines in houses and holiday homes?). For this reason the photographs took a line away from the instant recognition characteristic of photojournalism and began to make statements that were more universal, that talked about the commonality of human experience (and its differences) and began to make statements that were more considered in their approach.”


So, it seems to me that street photography tends to be more subjective as the photographer is free to interpret the people and events in the photos using one’s own imagination and opinions, whereas documentary photography and photojournalism tend to be more objective, as the pictures and captions are meant to record and report facts. Documentary photography often goes deeper to explore and analyse the story behind the pictures, compared to the immediate “show and tell” nature of photojournalism.


Nature appreciation - Bukit Batok Nature Park, Singapore
© Photographer: Jimmytst | Agency:




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