Xyza Bacani: 5 Documentary Photography Tips

street photography tips, documentary photography tips, xyza bacani

By Linette Vegerano | Fotograpiya

Do you love taking photos of  people in action? If yes, documentary photography is for you. In the recently concluded Camerahaus Photo Festival,Filipino street photographer Xyza Bacani shared some documentary photography tips to amateurs and aspiring photographers. Xyza is known for her black-and-white photographs of Hong Kong street life.

Before snapping another shot along the street, take note of the following tips:

1. Find something that you care about.

According to Xyza, before starting any project try to yourself these questions: Why do I care?  How do I care? And how do I like people to care?”  If you can’t answer those questions, do not do a project because documentary photography is very personal. It’s something that is close to you. You must have a voice of your own. Every image that you do is a part of yourself.

2. Write and describe the project in 20 words.

It will help you when starting a project. Research and write it down. One of the most important parts in doing documentary photography is the impact to your subject. Make sure that the project you’re doing has at least a positive impact to the people that you photograph.

3. Get an access.

Access is gold. How do you get access? Research and find your own character and angle. One way of getting an access is actually going to that person directly. You must have the self-confidence because it’s one of the hardest thing to do.

4. Learn how to shoot like a fly on the wall.

How do you do that? Spend time with your subject. Documentary photography is not just making stories and shooting. You need to invest your time and patience. You must know your basic composition. Most of the time when you’re gathering materials, the story will change. It’s not about you anymore, it’s about them.

5. Syndication.

How do you syndicate your project? Read the publication you are pitching to and work out what stories they are interested. Write a pitch letter and send it directly to the editors. In you pitch letter, tell your editor why you did it because a photographer must have his/her own walls. If you tell you editor you only took the photo just for publication purposes, documentary photography is not for you.

Photography has feelings. You can learn the basics of compositions like how to school. But you will realize soon that every photo that you take is about your feelings; especially when you create an impact to the people that you photographed. The moment you know that you have changed something and you have done something good for other people, your photo is not just a mere photo alone.

street photography tips, documentary photography tips, xyza bacani

If you would want to learn more about photography, you can count on Xyza. As she promised, “10 years from now I’m still going to be a photographer and a visual artist. I’m still going to make Filipinos proud. I’ll never stop doing that.  10 years from now, I will have a school of photography for those people like me who cannot afford to go to school.