This essay was commissioned for a special issue of the magazine Art and Design on “Photography in the Visual Arts’ (no.44, 1995). It was intended to be an overview (albeit brief) of the state of documentary at that point in time.
However, the published essay incorporated a number of stylistic changes made without my agreement, so I am including here my original version.
The picture opposite is © Paul Reas, and was taken at the North of England Open Air Museum, Beamish, County Durham, as part of his project Flogging a Dead Horse, 1993. My thanks to him for allowing me to reproduce it here.