Using Google Street View for Documentary work-Mishka Henner documents prostitution in Italy and Spain

Unlike most documentary projects we talk about, I wasn't drawn to Mishka's work because of its aesthetic value, or his efforts in uncovering the story- which, was precisely the point.

We can often loose sight of the message behind a documentary because the viewer gets lost in the beauty of the imagery. It allows us to create a distance between the subject and enables us to hide in the analysis of the art instead of actually connecting with the situation. We are very susceptible to creating a false sense of pity as a defense mechanism, art can often be used in this manner.

Yes I realize this is a surprising twist of conversation coming from a photographer who does prize the aesthetic value of photography and puts so much emphasis into it. By no means do I mean to discount the ability of art to create relevant social and political conversation, I merely want to point out the importance of not getting lost in the art of it all when documenting. I find this approach refreshing and something to consider, certainly worthy of a discussion.

Mishka Henner uses images from Google Street View cameras. Locations were sourced from online communities where men share information about sex workers.

You can view his work here:
No Man's Land by Mishka Henner

What does this say about street photography and documentary as a whole? The medium has changed dramatically over the century starting with the accessibility of world travel, then the coming of the digital age, online filters and post production programs, and now the use of other technologies from phones to eye-glasses with built in cameras. Is this just another part of the evolution of documentary work. Will photography exists in the way we know it today or will it be a throwback ten years from now like vinyl?

What do you think, is Mishka Henner's approach a valid and effective way of bringing the story to people? Does it matter that he didn't click the shutter or even approach a single person for this project?

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