Fotograf Magazine

Pavel Štecha

Cerebral photographer

The extant literature on sociological photography is scant. Is there even such a thing as sociological photography? One possible answer to that question might be provided by the photographs of Pavel Štecha, illustrating reports based on sociological research in cities or larger localities (e.g. Ostrava – Přívoz 1981, Břeclav District 1983). These are typically impromptu snapshots, aptly documenting the findings of the sociological reports. They put forward in concrete terms the findings, theses and issues at hand, illuminating the subject of the research papers themselves. In a sense they epitomize the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Looking at a picture of a living room, for example, can provide far more insight than reading pages of sociological studies. But not just that – a photograph always depicts something more – things that words alone cannot convey. The ultimate pride of a sociological documentarist is to observe something important which had escaped the notice of the researcher. Štecha, for example, was proud of his picture taken in Tábor, showing a truck driving down a street so narrow that its bed was almost brushing the facades of the houses on both sides.

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#26 documentary strategies