“What's really important is to simplify. The work of most photographers would be improved immensely if they could do one thing: get rid of the extraneous. If you strive for simplicity, you are more likely to reach the viewer.” - William Albert Allard
Simplify. I have been giving that some thought the last couple of days. Photography is an art of subtraction. It is incumbent upon the photographer to remove non-essential elements from the viewfinder until nothing remains but the essence of the subject. Every object in the image will either strengthen or weaken it, concentrate the essence of the subject or dilute it.
Simplifying in documentary photography is difficult at times, almost impossible at others. It is most difficult when photographing human subjects. That difficulty is multiplied exponentially by the inclusion of more humans in the frame.
You are trying to be invisible in order to capture the unguarded moment, to not influence the interaction of the humans in your viewfinder. They are totally out of your control. They do what they do with no thought of how it will impact the images you are struggling to create.
You know the shot that you want to create - you can see it coming; you can all but feel it. You can watch their movements, their eyes, their hands, their feet; you can listen to their conversation. You can anticipate. More accurately, you can try to anticipate. Sometimes you nail the shot. Sometimes your best efforts produce photographic muck. In the end, documentary photography is kind of a crap shoot.
I guess that's why this genre of photography sinks its hooks into some of us so deeply.