Premium Documentary Project | Module 1 – Finding Stories: Starting Your Own Project

Now that you have decided to go ahead with your own project (please make sure to read the Module 0 first) it is time to choose the subject around which you will build a visual narrative.

By developing a documentary photography project you will produce a visual narrative, you will tell a story. The most prominent projects, or at least the ones with more impact, usually cover stories of political or social significance. But it’s possible to develop a project about almost everything. The possibilities are endless. And it isn’t necessary to reach remote or exotic areas of the planet to create a good story. The subject can be located right in your own city.

When thinking of a subject to be the core of your project, there are two important aspects to take into consideration:

  1. It must be interesting to you, its author. Otherwise, very easily you are going to quit;
  2. It also must be interesting to the general public. If it’s interesting to you but no one wants to know about it, at some point you will feel frustrated and probably you won’t complete it.

This is undoubtedly one of the most important stages and will dictate the whole sequence of events that will follow. Most documentary projects usually take from a few months to several years, so choose wisely. And when you truly commit to a project, no matter how much time passes, it will touch you.

So, what methods can we use to check if we are making the right choice? Let’s now describe the simple but effective tools for assessing the potential of a project.

This building near the Municipality of Andulo, was initially a convent. During the war it was occupied by UNITA troops during the Angolan Civil War and served as headquarters, where Jonas Savimbi himself, its leader, was based. After the bombardment, little of it remained standing.
As the war ended, some nuns returned, the mass is again celebrated in the church and the parts of the building less affected are working as a school.

Within the several ideas you may be considering for your project, carefully check if they have these two key elements before starting working on it:


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Co-founder of the Fuji X Passion Project. Travel and documentary photographer from Portugal, using mirrorless cameras since 2012.