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Subject: dare we go there??? what do you consider street photography to be?

Category: Street Photography Discussion

Posted: 04-10-13 12:41 PM

By: Joe Rizzuto

i know that some don't even like the term anymore...'street photography'...i grew up with it and hold it and it's followers in high is something i aspire to...but what is it exactly?
i'm not after arguments but clear opinions...some think it has to have people in the image, some don't...
let's get a conversation started...


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Reply from Dimitris V Georgopoulos on 04-19-13 1:02 PM

Street Photography is a photographic genre of which the key elements, are the observation and capture of people, social interaction as well as interaction of people with their environment at a public space, an open or closed one, urban or rural one, preferably in a candid and not posing situation.
The existence of a street, as such, is not mandatory. Here “Street” is actually a metaphor that refers to those public places referred to, with or without the presence of people. Thus within the concept of street photography the photographer can capture people within perspective or the same perspective without any people. People could be clearly identified in the picture by their presence or can be implied by their absence.
Hence that kind of definition of the genre easily accepts different interpretations. Thus documentary photography, portraits of people on the street, travel photography documenting places can be considered as street photography and vice-versa.
In film days when digital photography and internet did not exist, photography was mainly made available to the public, through the press, exhibitions, and sometimes the television.
Therefore street photography gradually took its shape in b&w, in certain forms and following more or less certain rules at the paces of the great photographers whose works were widely published in periodicals like Life, National Geographic, Vanity Fair, Vue and others. In a smaller scale exhibitions were the main providers of food for thought and information.
Time progressing, the introduction of color film, the increase of travelling, and the appearance of “road movies” created an environment that helped street photography to make a step further from the standards practically set by HCB. Actually a new set-up was in the making inspired by the already matured and imposing “American” school and the developing “European” one with Magnum combining the best of the two worlds.
The shape of street photography changed over the years. Today Kudelka’s “Chaos” can be considered as street photography. This and other important photographic works, proved that sometimes the result defines the genre by itself.
Today the margins of definition of street photography widened. The internet generally exposed the majority to a voluptuous consumption of images, bad, good and ugly ones, too often accompanied by lesser opinion and motivation giving to many the excuse to interpret things and rules in their own way.
This is not necessarily bad. It is bad if it keeps somebody from making the outmost effort in order to get the result she/he envisaged. To see things correctly within the discipline of photography somebody is engaged to and to take photos making her/his point of view available as a proposition to others for them to judge, retain, perish or cherish.
Therefore, as “…like a pure nature child you were born, born to be wild…” do you dare to go out there? In the wild? To walk, talk, observe, argue, communicate, inspire and be inspired and to take pictures trying to define or re-define yourself, your craft and the others?
Street Photography can take you away from something too familiar to get you closer to something unfamiliar.
In my opinion that’s the essence of street photography and that shows.
Hope I was constructive. Thanks for tour patience.
Dimitris V. Georgopoulos, Athens, Greece.
Reply from Sol on 04-14-13 4:42 AM

In my opinion:
"Street Photography"
Capturing everyday scenes, real life, in open places and public.
Catches must be "spontaneous" to show what happens on the street.
The name "street photography" is very correct and very well defined. It is simply that.
The use of a tripod and flash of the photographer's choice.
Documenting the human condition is quite difficult through photography in the street.
The human condition is much more delicate and difficult to document.
In my opinion it is "portraying reality happens in the street"
Good luck in your shots!
Reply from Jim Craig on 04-13-13 6:03 AM

Hey gang, still learning. I have observed that most of the answers are focused on capturing people and mood but there is some variance as to where the people are. This helps me a lot.

But my questions are does the shooting styling come into play? That is, does it matter if it is handheld or tripod mounted (I've read an article where a writer is dogmatic about tripods whereas most articles do not even address the issue), flash or only the lighting that is available, etc. Also, is there a strict line between portrait and street photography or is it more of a preference issue?
Reply from Steve Gumbiner on 04-11-13 5:55 PM

"Documenting the Human Condition", just what the heck does that mean? At least "Street Photography" describes the setting. Candid Public Captures would be more descriptive. For me it's capturing scenes that have mood, interest, humor, pathos, beauty, horror........ errr, and more.
Reply from J T on 04-10-13 9:09 PM

[quote]nando wrote:
I think that street photography is a stupid name. I like Chris Week's suggestion: documenting the human condition.[/quote]

But that would make it difficult for users to google and find this site. Although now that you mentioned it, it will be indexed :)
Reply from Fernando Gomes Semedo on 04-10-13 8:58 PM

I think that street photography is a stupid name. I like Chris Week's suggestion: documenting the human condition.
Reply from Tony Klimas on 04-10-13 8:37 PM

Capturing images of people on the street going about their lives. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Reply from Chris Malikoff on 04-10-13 3:13 PM

For me, it's simply photographs taken in an urban scene. Whether images be of many people, a single person, a cup on a table or an interesting building, the essence of it to me is that of portrayal of the way we live presented in as artful a fashion as one can manage.
Reply from J T on 04-10-13 1:15 PM

This is a hard one to answer. For me its more like Journalistic type work. But more so, anything that is memorable. It can be a stranger looking at a girl in the street and you captured his glance. It could be a coffee cup on a table in a cafe. I guess, its more of a spontaneous capture than anything else.

We will all have different views on this which is why this site is open to anyone and all. Art is unique to the creators imagination. Let the images tell the story.
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