Analyzing the Documentary Photo Style of Tish Murtha

British documentary photographer Tish Murtha was best know for covering marginalized communities, social realism and lives of the struggling working-class people. Most of her images were captured in Newcastle and around the northeast of England around the 1970s and ’80s, during economic trouble. Murtha also had a certain affinity for children and youth, so viewers will find them as common subjecrs in her work. In today’s video, photographer Sean Tucker discusses Murtha’s style and the qualities that set her apart:

Murtha herself was brought up in a working-class family. She had to work multiple jobs to pay the bills while learning about documentary photography on the side. Because of her upbringing, she was quickly able to connect with her subjects. But similar backgrounds aren’t the only connection she shared had with them—she also spent plenty of time with her subjects, so she could better understand and access private moments in their lives.

Murtha also commonly handed over prints to her subjects. This helped her build trust with them. All of these qualities allowed Murtha to photograph authentic and honest moments, which are qualities that define her style.

And while there is no shortage of documentary photographers capturing sorrow, pain and sadness, Murtha took a different approach. As Tucker explains:

“Her images did not look down on these children. They celebrated their reselience and their resourcefullness as they just got on with daily life as best they could.”

If documentary photography is something that interests you, you’ll love Tucker’s analysis of Murtha’s work. Be sure to watch the entire video.

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