PHOTOGRAPHS IN DOCUMENTARY FILMS
In documentary filmmaking, photographs can be an important part of telling a story. They can help illustrate a point or a story from the past. If a person is talking about their childhood, visualizing the story with images can be very helpful. Photographs can explain current and historical events and help drive the narrative of the film forward.
When making my documentary film RADIO UNNAMEABLE, we used many photographs to illustrate the stories of protest that happened in New York during the 1960s. These events were not well documented by the news media but many people attended them. We estimated that of all the people in the crowds, perhaps a quarter had cameras with them and of all those people perhaps half still had the photographs 50 years later.
We plunged into an exhaustive search to find these images. We made phone calls, put out requests on social media, visited homes of strangers. There were many rabbit holes but also much triumph. In the end we were able to track down and use enough images to tell our story successfully and allow the viewer to fully understood what it felt like to be in a protest over half a century ago.