Polly Braden

Taken from: http://pollybraden.com/about/

Polly Braden has become renowned for her documentary photography exploring the relationship between everyday life, work, leisure and economics. Searching for small and telling gestures her images are acutely observed portraits and broader assessments of contemporary culture.

She works on long-term, self-initiated projects, as well as commissions for international publications. Her book China Between is published by Dewi Lewis, 2010, a selection of her work from China is included in the book Street Photography Now published by Thames and Hudson 2010. In recent years she has collaborated with journalists to produce extended photo-essays in the UK, the Middle East, Morocco, Kenya and China. Her photography has appeared in The GuardianThe Saturday Telegraph magazine, Ei8ht magazinePortfolio, ICONPhotoworksFrieze.

Braden teaches regularly at The University of Westminster and London College of Communication (LCC).  She taught photography at Xiamen University during a residency at the CEAC (Chinese European Art Centre) and at Kunming University during a residency at 943 studio.

Braden is a winner of the Jerwood Photography Prize, 2003 and The Guardian Young Photographer of the Year, 2002. She has exhibited at venues internationally including the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) 2005, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago 2006, Format International Photography Festival 2011, The Museum of London 2011Krakow Photomonth, Alias, 2011Minnie Weisz Gallery 2011London festival of Photography 2011 and the Hua Gallary, London 2012. She is winner of the Joanna Drew Bursary 2013.


I was drawn to Polly’s work when I was looking through a book on Street Photography, (Street PhotographyNow by Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLaren. In particular, her project on London’s Square Mile – a body of work  filled with grand architecture and small, interesting human interactions with it. London Square Mile is a study of life in the City, showing isolated figures against the polished facades of office buildings. As David Campany writes: “in the end a city is not its buildings, it is its people”

Taken at Liverpool St Station, this is made really strong by the red coats of the passer-by and the shop window, with all the shadow lines pointing towards them


The image below is actually from her China Between project, and shows restaurant staff being given a pep talk – there’d clothed people behind the glass window reflecting the rest of life, give a sense of the mysterious – underlined by the uniform appearances.


From her Courrier Japon project – the great shadow play along the steps, and the reflections on the wall behind the centrally placed figure climbing the stairs – another strong image of a man going about his daily routine


This, also from the Courrier Japon project has such fabulous geometry, and again, the centrally placed figure gives it scale and purpose


“To me photography is a time to think. Especially when I am doing my own work, it is a very reflective time.” Polly Braden


10 Lessons William Klein Has Taught Me About Street Photography

10 Lessons William Klein Has Taught Me About Street Photography

Reposted as I wanted to study the work of William Klein

William Klein is one of my favorite street photographers of all time. I think one of the things that I love most about him is his “I don’t give a fuck” attitude about the way he a…

Source: 10 Lessons William Klein Has Taught Me About Street Photography

A few of my street shots

I think that as a small, plump, older woman, I can probably get away with this, you know. Having conquered the first of my fears by shooting only the backs of people, I am now happier to take them from the front – even with eye contact, though I often pretend to be shooting something else. I wonder if they are fooled?


Here is a selection of my work before I start examining that of others –

  1. This was taken in Cambridge, during the illuminations they had to light up the buildings and the hearts of the viewers. This was a moving black and white pattern, which in itself was mesmerising – but the lights in the bottom right windows made this for me.



2. A similar event, just before Christmas 2015, in Oxford this time. The Clarendon building was lit up with 15 minutes worth of extraordinary moving pictures

Oxford lights 11-15-00923

There are no people in these pictures, but I still think they are in the Street genre as they describe unusual human activity.


3. This scene appealed to me, and as the earnest discussion allowed me to get in quite close without being noticed, and as, of course, everyone else was taking pictures amongst these wonderful old buildings of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, it was an easy shot.

Oxford Oct 2015-00432


4. Again, in Oxford, passing this shop window, I saw this amazing Halloween cake, with the girl behind working, who I kept out of focus to emphasise that the cake didn’t just make itself!!

Oxford Oct 2015-00466


5. She walks these two dogs regularly, and wears the same hat and coat – they looked an interesting trio!!

Oxford Oct 2015-00721


6. Covent Garden has quite a few street musicians and other entertainers. This lady was collecting donations and selling DVD’s of the music played by the group below!! A classical string quartet with operatic singing! Lovely accompaniment to a cup of tea and a cake! The guy behind the smiling woman was engrossed in his phone, and made an interesting contrast. I can’t help thinking that mobile phones will be a good subject for the future…




7. We took the Grandchildren to the Wildlife Park at Burford, in the Cotswolds. Always on the lookout, I spotted this guy, with his huge lens, looking quite pleased with himself!



8. Both Oxford and Cambridge have huge fleets of punts for the visitors to show off in. These guys were certainly having a lot of fun!

Oxford lights 11-15-01168


9. New Years Day in Stow on the Wold. The Heythrop Hunt were having their annual meet in town. Not sure if this chap was press or just there for his own entertainment, but it was my opinion that he missed the best shot of the day, as the girl just beneath his lens posed for me….



10. Tai Chi on the beach – what better place to do it!! At Lyme Regis.



11. Outside the Art Gallery on Princes Street, Edinburgh, he and his dog were busy watching the Christmas shoppers…



12. Selective colouring made the red coat of the huntsman stand out quite dramatically



13. Travelling home from London, these two young women were happily absorbed for the whole journey, which lasted getting on for 2 hours. I found the colours very pleasant, but when I removed them, the picture seemed to have more impact. It is clearly a new way to live – communicating with one’s technology. They could have had an interesting chat, and probably learnt just as much…





A fascinating genre

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.


  1.   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[4] through to the late 1970s; a period which saw the emergence of portable cameras that enabled candid photography in public places.

2.    http://www.in-public.com/information/what_is

Street Photographers

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.”

What is Street Photography?

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.


4.  http://street-photography-manifesto.tumblr.com

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.

Nick Turpin


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…