If you were to write a screenplay, documentary style, of a famous photographer.........how would you do it? Would you focus more on how they came to this profession, or would you focus on the photography itself?
I would try to focus on how the personality and life of the photographer shows itself in his / her work.
I'm thinking of something along the lines of "Life Through A Lens" that is a great insight into the life of Annie Leibovitz.
I would focus on the people because I believe their experience is what the audience want to hear. Documentaries in my opinion, are better at describing people. People watch documentaries because they want to learn. That’s what I’m thinking.
I would focus on both aspects but concentrate more on their life and journey. If you are writing a documentary, you want your audience to know where the famous photographer has come from and how they achieved their success. They are already famous because of their achievements so I'd make what people don't know about them more pronounced!
You have to focus on the photographer first so that the audience understands their story, the challenges they overcame, and the source of their inspiration. I think this is the best way to put their craft in the right context.
It can be the struggles they go through. What made them succeed in their career. It can be interesting though, if the photographer is also involved in the production process of the documentary. It can be that some shots are produced by the photographer. Applying some personal artistic senses into the documentary can portray that photographer‘s life and career better.
I'd focus on his approach to photography and look more into its reasoning. In this way, parts of his life that are closely related to photography can be highlighted. There are many photographers but not all becomes famous. Seeing the reasoning of a famous photographer may help other people in the industry realize angles that they haven't thought of.