The photographs of José Ortiz Echagüe are often read in terms of artistic and documentary values, with the two poles in tension within his work. Echagüe’s project Spain. Types and Costumes was an attempt to document systematically traditional Spanish costumes. At the same time, Echagüe never abandoned pictorialist techniques, which are often considered contrary to documentary intentions. This article discusses the types and costumes series from a historic perspective based in the social uses of photography. This perspective shows how the same images were considered in different contexts as artistic or documentary images, or as propaganda icons in both sides during the Spanish Civil War.