Street photography – a gritty, down to earth genre of photography, predominated by men, I think, so an older woman with a camera might not be noticed? I have been playing, and will be posting my own work, but I am also going to explore other people’s work, both the well known, and some of my favourite Flickrites.
- According to Wikipedia:
Street photography is photography that features the chance encounters and random accidents within public places. Street photography does not necessitate the presence of a street or even the urban environment. Though people usually feature directly, street photography might be absent of people and can be of an object or environment where the image projects a decidedly human character in facsimile or aesthetic.
Framing and timing can be key aspects of the craft with the aim of some street photography being to create images at a decisive or poignant moment. Street photography can focus on emotions displayed, thereby also recording people’s history from an emotional point of view. Similarly, Social documentary photographers document people and their behavior in public places for the purpose of recording people’s history and other purposes; photojournalists work in public places, capturing newsworthy events, which may include people and property visible from public places; services like Google Street View also record the public place at a massive scale.
Much of what is regarded, stylistically and subjectively, as definitive street photography was made in the era spanning the end of the 19th century through to the late 1970s; a period which saw the emergence of portable cameras that enabled candid photography in public places.
Our aim is to promote Street Photography and to continue to explore its possibilities. All the photographers featured here have been invited to show their work because they have the ability to see the unusual in the everyday and to capture the moment. The pictures remind us that, if we let it, over-familiarity can make us blind to what’s really going on in the world around us.
and what is Street Photography according to them?
Primarily street photography is not reportage, it is not a series of images displaying, together, the different facets of a subject or issue. For the street photographer there is no specific subject matter and only the issue of ‘life’ in general, they don’t leave the house in the morning with an agenda and they don’t visualise their photographs in advance of taking them. street photography is about seeing and reacting, almost by-passing thought altogether.
For many street photographers the process does not need ‘unpacking’, It is, for them, a simple ‘Zen’ like experience, they know what it feels like to take a great shot in the same way that the archer knows they have hit the bullseye before the arrow has fully left the bow. As an archer and street photographer myself, I can testify that, in either discipline, if I think about the shot too hard, it is gone.
3. “Street photographs are mirror images of society, displaying “unmanipulated” scenes, with usually unaware subjects.”
Street photography uses the techniques of straight photography in that it shows a pure vision of something, like holding up a mirror to society. Street photography often tends to be ironic and can be distanced from its subject matter, and often concentrates on a single human moment, caught at a decisive or poignant moment. On the other hand, much street photography takes the opposite approach and provides a very literal and extremely personal rendering of the subject matter, giving the audience a more visceral experience of walks of life they might only be passingly familiar with.
Street photography v documentary photography
Street photography and documentary photography are two very similar genres of photography that often overlap while having distinct individual qualities. Street photography has the ability to document while documentary has the definite intention of recording history. Documentary photography can be candid, but street photography is defined by its candidness. Street photography produces ironic amusement while documentary provides emotional intensity. The language of street photography is subtle and not as loud and outspoken as documentary photography often is.
In the 19th century, the peak of street photography, most photographers were naïve to the fact that they were “documenting” history. As street photographers they had no definite intentions or goals beyond the production of a candid print. Documentary style is defined by its premeditated message and intention of documenting particular events in history. The documentary approach includes aspects of journalism, art, education, sociology and history. In documentary’s social investigation, often the images are intended to pave way to social change. Documentary’s underlying motives complicate its ability to give a clear, impartial vision of the world. Street Photography is disinterested in its nature, allowing it to deliver a true depiction of the world.
Street photographs are mirror images of society, displaying “unmanipulated” scenes, with usually unaware subjects.
Street Photography: A Brief Definition
It is a branch of realistic fine-art photography that records unposed scenes in public places (streets, parks, restaurants, stores, museums, libraries, airports; train, bus, and subway stations, etc.)
The primary subject is people, at rest or in motion, alone or with others, going about the every-day activities of life (walking, sitting, standing, waiting, reading, eating, talking, listening, laughing, daydreaming, greeting, parting, working, playing, shopping, viewing art, sightseeing, etc.).
The emphasis is not on the subject’s personal identity, as in portraiture. And unlike photojournalism, there is no news here, rather, the commonplace; although, the line between photojournalism and street photography is often blurry. Many of the best street photographers were photojournalists. Unlike travel photography, that aims to entice the viewer to visit a certain place or to fondly remember it, location is relatively unimportant, though busy cities with interesting architecture are commonly seen in these works.
The primary emphasis is on capturing a fleeting composition, a temporary arrangement of lines, forms, textures, and tones–balanced within a rigid frame. While such photographs often document clothing styles or automobile design, these details are subordinate to the artistic elements; whereas, in strict documentary photography, content is more important than artistry. In street photography, the image can be sharp or blurred and impressionistic. Many images feature strong graphic elements which–considered separately–constitute interesting geometric patterns.
Consistent with their overwhelming interest in composition, many street photographers–not all—shoot with a black and white final image in mind, eschewing color as a distraction. Another reason for this is the generally-conservative nature of the discipline. The early masters are revered and emulated, their styles and shooting techniques studied.
Some purists not only insist on shooting un-posed scenes, they attempt to compose entirely in-camera, without cropping. Finally, the tone of these images tends to be positive, celebrating life and its fleeting nature in the very act of seeing and seizing and sharing momentary beauty and meaning with the viewer.
Larry E. Fink
More than anything Street Photography is an attitude, it is an openness to being amazed by what comes your way, it is unlearning the habit of categorising and dismissing the everyday as being ‘just the everyday’ and beginning to recognise that extraordinary, beautiful and subtle stories are occurring in front of you everyday of your life if you can see them. I actually think you can be a Street Photographer without a camera and without making photographs, it is really just the more insecure Street Photographers like myself that actually have to record and show off their ability to ‘see’.
How many other forms of photography essentially have ‘wonder’ at their heart? That’s what makes Street Photography almost a spiritual process for many because it is so personal and so akin to a kind of photographic enlightenment. Street Photography helps me understand the nature of my society and my place in it, I do it more for myself than I do for an external audience and like Buddhist enlightenment I do achieve a happiness through gaining that understanding. I have certainly experienced Matrix– like moments of revelation when in a public place I see things, moments just reveal themselves because I have put myself in the right situation for it to happen.
Rather a vague definition, I think – but enough of one to be a guide. Out there where people live, work, play – the places they go, with or without their presence. But, if there are people present, then catching them unawares is usually the name of the game, although an extra dimension can be added if there is eye-contact. In point of fact, almost anything goes, it seems. Some people shoot in colour, but B&W is the traditional method.
Right! I should get started…