Is street photography fast becoming a thing of the past?

Discussion in 'Street and Documentary' started by tonmestrom, Oct 16, 2008.

  1. Of course I could be wrong but I get a sense that street photography as an art has become something that not a lot
    of people appreciate anymore, let alone gallery's. Although it's hardly representative here on PN it's something that
    only a handful of people seem drawn to and work at. More importantly in the real world it's something you have to
    look for real
    hard. I'm not sure about the States but even over here in Paris, a city that can arguably be called the photography
    Europe, it's not something you're likely to find in great numbers, even in coherent series.
    While documentary still thrives to a modest extent, although in a niche, street seems to be something that's close to
    invisable. So has it
    been marginalised and if so why?
    I'm not talking about how saleable it is for that is obvious. It's more a question against the background of aesthetics
    or what we perceive as such. Has there been a cultural shift?
  2. It is possible that you are right. When I lived in NYC I carried around a 4 x 5 speed or crown Graphic every
    week end. I never had a problem! About 25 years ago, I carried a Rollicord with me most of the time. I now
    cary a compact auto-focus (35 mm Film) camera with me. I have read about the problems other photographers have
    had trying to take photographs with anythin larger than a cell phone.

    OT -
    I have been cleaning out my darkroom and can almost reach my boxes of 4 x 5 negatives from 'way back'. I will
    scan and upload a few of them with the hope that some photographers will try to duplicate them from the same
    perceptive in the 21st century.
  3. I'm suspecting that the rather feisty (and even a little touchy?) participants on this forum will let you know how wrong you are.
  4. And why would that be? If you read my post I'm not talking about street photographers, let alone those here, but about a phenomena.
  5. As I say, posters on this forum for some reason seem to be a little touchy.
  6. i don't think that people are shooting less. they are shooting more with the great proliferation of cameras. it is just that they are shooting elsewhere and in many cases, they are getting their cases playing with more complex gadgets and photo manipulation software. sites like flickr have thousands of amateur street photography related shots. there is less of a professional or amateur enthusiasts interest in this type of photography these days. the paparazzi have also made the general public less sympathetic towards cameras.
  7. JDM, I have a bit more confidence in people than you seem to have. Besides I post here as well and I'm hardly feisty
    and only on occasion touchy. Also while doing street is often solitary it doesn't automatically follow that one is feisty
    or touchy. More importantly though I really think that street photography has not lost in meaning (quite the contrary
    in fact) but in appreciation, hence the low exposure it gets. I think my question was very clear.
  8. More importantly though I really think that street photography has not lost in meaning (quite the contrary in fact) but in appreciation, hence the low exposure it gets.
    The demise of appreciation starts with a mutual appreciation society. It is all too predictable who would say appreciative words about whose post and would get a pat on their back in return (in the same thread or as a pay back, on another). :)
  9. Street photography has not really mattered in the art world for many years. I worry about this contantly each time I joyfully get
    out there with a rangefinder fitted with a wideangle lens doing what for me comes naturally. In other words, you've got to do it for
    the love and let history take care of the appreciation part.
  10. On the other hand, look at the attention paid to such "beyond-street" photographers as Beat Streuli and Philip-Lorca diCorcia.
    Good packaging always helps. They are both fine photographers but nothing that special in my opinion. The best street
    photographers who regularly post here such as Joe Gallo, John Sidlo, John Mac, Ray, Brad, Michael S, Andy K (I know I'm not
    mentioning some of you) are all better. And who knows? It's so easy to hide behind a pseudonym here that one of them, or
    even me, might be diCorcia or Streuli. I could write an entire book about the manifold reasons why street photography is not a
    hottie in the art world, but then again it does not matter to me in either my own personal appreciation and love of street
  11. Orville wrote: >'ve got to do it for the love and let history take care of the appreciation part.<

    I agree with that. Unless you consider yourself a commercial photographer who has to sync him/herself to markets (and I
    sure don't intend any disdain of that, btw), the way to generate your best possible work is to throw yourself into doing
    what you love.

    And you know, the greater the work, the more it transcends categories. A great Cartier-Bresson or Doisneau doesn't
    make me think Street Photography (although much of it is), it makes me think Art. If your best photos just _kill_, people
    are not going to be calculating whether or not they will satisfy such and such existing market, they're going to be thinking
    Wow, this is magical -- how do I get on board?.
  12. Just what in either of my statements had anything to do with "confidence in people"? [this is a rhetorical question and does not actually require you to answer]

    I understood what you were saying and felt that your initial premise was incorrect. I will say I expected more people to say just that, but either way I don't see there being much of a problem.

    Your responses seem to prove my point about being some people here being touchy.

    touchy |ˈtə ch ē|
    adjective ( touchier , touchiest )
    (of a person) oversensitive and irritable.
  13. Ton,

    I suppose what attracts people to the street as a location is that it carries a constant stream of human life in public view. I don't believe that human interest in humanity will ever wane. But there are more cameras out there than ever before, yet (IMHO) there seem to be fewer quality street photographs.

    Personally, I find two things wanting in a lot of work by contemporary 'street' photographers. First, an obvious feeling for humanity (whether it be empathy, compassion, anger, joy, admiration, or disgust). Ton, you have some very likeable examples in your portfolio that buck this trend. All too often the subject is shot as though they were a trophy, something to hunt and 'bag'. Second, artistic skill in composition, that inner recognition of what is 'right' and the extra little shift of the camera to achieve it. In this respect, HCB set a very, very long bench-mark.
  14. Adolphius, I would love to see some of the photos! When you're ready, please post them in this forum as a new thread so
    those of us interested don't miss them.
  15. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Street photography is primarily of interest to other street photographers. There is very little public interest in street photography save a few, probably Winogrand being the most prominent example. Many people often called street photographers, including HCB, took a much more documentary approach, and their photos present a much stronger picture of some aspect of life beyond happening to be taken on the street.
  16. In my opinion, whether or not HCB was a street photographer or not, he had the eye of an artist. He composed images
    that hang together as wholes, like an artist does. And he had a rare sensitivity to his fellow humans. A street
    photographer who develops those sides of their work will make photos that reach an audience beyond any category. The
    average viewer (beyond the "fans" of a particular genre) won't care if you have a social agenda, a documentation agenda,
    or whatever -- not if they're transfixed by an image.

    In another field, consider the Beatles. They were trying to make pop/rock music. But their sensitivity and artistry reached
    far beyond those categories. My mother would be 89 if she were alive today, and she adored the Beatles. Everyone from
    Bing Crosby and Sinatra thru to the as yet unknown artists of tomorrow, have or will cover Beatles songs, because they
    transcend their category.

    I guess I'm simply saying what I tell myself: don't worry so much about our favorite genre. Worry about expressing in
    photography the universal connections between all people. If you build it, they will come. :^D
  17. m_.


    it all depends on what the story is. people will always fascinated with new lines of stories. no one wants to read the same story over and over.
  18. A bit slow guys... During the film days ( and still so ), street photography developed within itself by attempts of many photographers so it took a very long time for us to see frontiers which are just a few. Although the technique in photographic era did not change significantly, the equipment did. Digital century changed many things (the access to a camera became more easy I think) so number of the unqualified photographers (like me), increased ,as the qualified ones stood same accordingly.
    I believe that-of course this is my idea- when ordinary photographers increased, although this should make contrast with valuable ones and make them more valuable, it didn't happen so. The high trend of digital PS camera using made street photography so ordinary that, the decreasing attention to this category made the superior samples seem to be invaluable too. This may seem to be a raw idea but, when it comes to public opinion , it may become true. For example, when I showed my father the GW's works, he revealed them excellent although he has no idea what street photography is, but when I presented him today's ordinary samples mixed into today's frontier samples of street photography, he saw no difference , likely all of them were bad. ? MF
  19. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Digital century changed many things (the access to a camera became more easy I think)
    The access to images became more easy. There's never been a shortage of boring street photography, we just didn't have places to see most of it.
  20. It's mostly all the will of the wave. I know many museum and gallery people who love street photography and many who
    abhore it or think it's merely retro. The secret word is trend. The young curators who are now in grad school or undergoing
    museum fellowships are more attuned to so-called intellectual work, especially if it's also supported by the commercial
    galleries. It's not always snobbism; it many times reflects the artistic culture that they have adopted. Museums also need
    money from huge crowds seeing major works by hot artists. More and more often the commercial gallery system is driving
    what gets shown in museums. It's a cash thing rather than anything personal for the most part. This filtered down to the
    universities as well. Everyone wants to discover the next hot artist or movement. It's both money and personal enrichment.
    It's similar to the whole investment banker explosion or the dotcom popularity from the 80s and 90s. Some great art still gets
    created, but too much of it seemed like a money grab. But, like my hero Underdog always said "There's no need to fear!"
    You have to first produce interesting work and then find an audience. There are still many quality venues all over the world
    for street photography. The dedication is not just in the making but also the marketing. Also there are plenty of top quality
    street photographers who could care less about showing their work to any gallery or museum and to whom this discussion
    does not apply. I love showing my work in galleries and museums, but bottomline, it's all about my obsession.
  21. Paris is an especially unlikely place to see street photography in a gallery, in France it's effectively illegal to exhibit or
    publish most of what we think of as street.

    But really, a lot of what is now canonical art was derided and ignored in the era it was produced. We may all be famous once
    we're dead.
  22. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Galleries and museums have nothing to do with it.

    The public, the people who are usually the intended audience for images, is not particularly interested in street photography. They are interested in photography, it's easy to see that. But street photography doesn't have much appeal outside the community of street photographers.
  23. Street Photography is not alone in being "invisible"... A friend of mine is a classical composer. Talk about disappointment. You can hardly fill Symphony Hall with Mozart or Beethoven let alone a smaller hall with people willing to shell out a few bucks to listen to an unknown composer. But he writes music because he has to. He's compelled to. I think that's the best reason to take pictures... meaning, it's really no reason (or it's the only reason. Or both...). Years ago I read a quote attributed to Stieglitz (which I've just tried to Google, unsuccessfully): "The worst thing that has happened to photography is the proliferation of the camera." Answer to Ton's original question, Street Photography had a vogue but it was also in tune with the times. There are more mediums and distractions today that never existed in the 20s or the 60s (etc.) and maybe static images just don't do it for a lot of folks out there... And, then Stieglitz (along with a few posters here) just might have a point.
  24. Joe, thanks for your reply because in many ways your example is a perfect metaphor. We've become a society of
    fastfood rather than quality food. Street photography has never been en vogue, at least not in the context used. It has
    had however a profound impact on our culture which it now lacks. Nowadays we are inundated with images each and
    every day and as a result we (i.e. the public) have become desensitised. Therefore I don't believe for a minute that
    good photography always will stand out, it's not that simple.

    Digital has indeed nothing to do with it. It only means that more people are taking photo's not that there are more
    photographers. Mediocrity rules, as you can clearly see on this site and all other photography related ones. Fastfood
    instead of quality food.

    Orville, maybe on your side of the pond it's different but over here (contemporary) street photography is not
    something that many galleries will show. Come november the annual "Mois de la Photo" will start in Paris

    but I don´t think much contemporary street work will be on display. That has less to do with French law as it has with
    saleability. And since HCB´s name has been dropped, I don´t think his work would get the same recognition these

    Street photography can be very telling of a society in a lot of ways and maybe one of it´s primary functions has
    always been that of critical observant but since most of them have lost a healthy sense of selfreflection it´s not
    valued anymore.

    So Joe, coming back to your composer friend. It´s the Hans Zimmer´s and Klaus Badelt´s who make a living as film
    composers that are on top these days. Like I said, an appropiate metaphor.

    `All too often the subject is shot as though they were a trophy, something to hunt and 'bag'`
    Jonathan, it´s an interesting observation but wouldn´t that mean that by extension this is true of all photo´s.
  25. Ton, we actually do agree. It's very hard on both sides of the pond to show street photography, but it's not impossible here in
    the USA. I've done quite well in the recent past with shows at galleries and museums. There's no reason why anyone with good
    work could not do the same in the US. In fact in the US there's sometimes more interest in the European perspective than the
    American perspective. I have mostly been concentrating on shooting rather than showing my work over the past 5 years, yet
    next year I will have Spring exhibitions in NYC and Philadelphia, both on street photography. I can't believe how negative this is
    getting. My very ordinary non-artsy friends all love excellent street photography. If it's not that compelling then of course no one
    will bother. Finding a venue for your work is not easy, but it isn't the impossible dream. If I can do it, working full time and with an
    active social and married life, why can't any of you? Ton, if you can't find venues in France, contact places in the States. I'll
    even point out possible places if you email me, but never decide it's not worth it. Then you, and only you, lose.
  26. I can't believe how negative this is getting.
    You said that right. Starting with the moderator.. I sometimes wonder why he even moderates a forum called 'Street... '
  27. Painting is dead too. May as well all commit ourselves to the insane asylum.
  28. Orville, although this thread obviously wasn't started with me me or my photography in mind I wanna thank you for some good and sound advice. Actually I did two gallery exhibitions in the last few years, although not only street, but then again I do some other stuff as well. You're right it's worth it. I merely questioned a trend.
  29. Ray,

    I'm a born optimist, don't let it get to you. Negativism can either be questioned or simply dismissed as being irrelevant. Why not try the latter, I often do. As far as the insane asylum is concerned you just have to switch the TV on. We're already living there ;-)
  30. Before I forget, and before any misunderstandings occur, I'm not French. Actually I live in the Netherlands. I do spend a lot of time in Paris though.
  31. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I can't believe how negative this is getting.
    It's not "negative," it's realistic. It's based on experience, observation, and a wide variety of other sources.
    You said that right. Starting with the moderator.Apparently some people find something that doesn't agree with their views is a problem.
    I sometimes wonder why he even moderates a forum called 'Street... '
    Comments about moderation have never been allowed on the forums, but I guess attention to this is missing.
  32. We talk about street photography but do we all mean the same. Can we define what street photography is and
    what makes a good street photograph apart from obvious technical elements like composition?
  33. >>> Can we define what street photography is and what makes a good street photograph apart from obvious technical elements
    like composition?


    For some, it's merely any picture with a street and a person (that the viewer would likely have no interest in caring about).

    For others, it's a lot more. Perhaps an image that portrays an interesting slice of the energy/rhythm found on the street - a situation that
    helps release narrative to the viewer, and technically where there is some care for the elements being well-integrated.
  34. I don't consider myself a "street photographer", and I cringe a bit now when I hear the term because I think it has become a refuse bin for a lot of unskilled and undedicated "photographers" that have populated the internet over the past five years or so. Shooting "street" photos is not an excuse to ignore the technical aspects of photography. I think it's important to engage your subject, and not to produce work that appears cowardly or sneaky.
  35. Ray, I agree and disagree. The tone is definitely negative and symptomic of one who has accepted defeat and believes
    others should too. It is a valid point of view but is not the only point of view, thank goodness. The public venues for street
    photography are the internet, magazines, books, museums, galleries, etc. Some are commercial, some are non-
    commercial. The non-commercial ones are often more receptive to work by lesser known street photographers. However,
    you would be surprised how many commercial venues are open to our little thing as well. You might not get some glitzy
    show, but you might sell images through them or be referred to curators or editors seeking street photography. You should,
    in effect, sew the seeds with your work. I've been amazed how often I've been contacted by a perfect stranger because of
    recommendations from someone I had assumed showed little interest in my work. The point is that you can better choose to
    focus on those who inspire rather than those who constrict. I have learned to ignore the negative and associate with the
    positive. But enough of this childish back-and-forth nonsense, the way forward is that street photography is as alive as how
    you see it. For me it's the definition of who I am and what I believe.
  36. I think street photography has its place in the history of photography. However, most people I know pretty much think that
    photographing strangers on the street is a kind of stalking and think that its practitioners are weird and doing something

    I think to be interesting to most people, a photograph has to be more than abstract shapes and strangers - there has to be
    a more literal meaning. Otherwise it's just art for art's sake.
  37. Paul wrote:
    I don't consider myself a "street photographer", and I cringe a bit now when I hear the term because I think it has become a refuse bin for a lot of unskilled and undedicated "photographers" that have populated the internet ... >>
    Paul and I operating along the same line ... but we're about 180 degrees apart and still headed in opposite directions.
    I'm unskilled (glaringly so, when compared to those I regard as skilled), and not dedicated (when compared to those who really get out there regularly to shoot).
    And I have only a beginner's grasp of the technical aspects of photography. That's not a boast, but it's a fact.
    Seldom do I engage my subjects. Few are even aware they're in my photo.
    But these differences are only the preliminaries. My being out shooting on the street along with more skilled, more experienced, more accomplished shooters -- and then 'talking' to them here -- has given me a chance to learn (i)by doing, (ii)by experimenting and posting, and (iii)by listening when I'm fortunate to have one of the more experienced shooters offer comments and criticism.
    Realistically, without the internet, and sites like this and flickr (and others), I'd be shooting in a comparative vacuum. Perhaps somebody at a camera club would show up on the same night I've chosen to come, have an interest in street shooting, want to spend time with a newcomer ....
    Odds of that happening, much less happening regularly, are pretty slim. So I'll proudly and defiantly take my place in the "refuse bin." In fact, I like it here. :)
  38. Ton,

    I think you've touched on something here that's more about where we are as a civilization.
  39. Michael, you're a fsat learner then. I love seeing your work here. By the way, I used to belong to several camera and color slide
    clubs way back in the late 70s (old fart that I be). They were fun at the time. It's weird that nowadays I get approached by so
    many photographers who are absolutely terror-stricken by street photograpgy yet really love the idea of doing it one day. I was
    approached the other day by this young guy who asked me about my M5. Usually I am not receptive at all to those "nice
    camera!" comments. He quickly explained that he somehow knew I was a street photographer. I wound up pointing him
    towards a few street photography web sites.
  40. well, I'm hardly an expert in noticing trends or the latest items, but I agree that the larger Manhattan based galleries tend to not represent any street photographers except the established "Masters". But in the lower rent districts of Brooklyn there seems to be more "new photographer" representation. Powerhouse Books for one...although they are primarily a book publisher, they have exhibitions continously. Is this because the rent is lower and it's able to be backed up by book sales, where as the higher rent areas in Manhattan need to actually sell out the limitted edition prints at higher prices, so the risk level has to have established masters work. I don't know, but I think that is at least and very probably answer.

    I mean Grand Central Terminal has what is basically a Street Photography on going exhibit hanging in the food court area for the past couple years. They're not selling the stuff, but the fact they hang it, says someone relatively "high up" still has an interest in it.And again, it is the Master's work.

    I work in a large camera retailer....and I'm talking to customers about what the shoot all the time. Although the ones that make a living off of photography tend to do travel, events, and weddings, etc......most of the serious amateurs are telling me they do street. We swap cards and indeed, there are a lot of photography enthuisists doing street. I'm not really sure, and this is more impression, that even the Masters in their own day made money off of street. The few I've actually read bio's on made money off of grants, books, fashion, portraiture, and actual documentary. Their street photographs came into being "art" either very late in their life or after they were dead....

    ...anyhow, as some say above, I don't really care. I love shooting street. And as for it getting harder to do, I am actually finding it easier to do. I believe that it's more my own attitude towards shootin people on the streets, than theirs. I fully support the thought that if you act like you're suppose to be doing it, your subject assumes that also.

    back on the subject of books again...I think this is where present day street photographers should place their efforts. You know longer have to go to the big publishing houses to get one published. The Blurbs...and I forget the other's at the moment....are starting to get their acts together. Some of the latest Blurb books I've seen are much better than they use to be......don't know if that is Blurb's doing, or the photographers books I've seen know how to calibrate there work to Blurb's way of doing things. I don't know what Powerhouse Books charges....but there is that small publishing house thing that seems to be on the rise also. Tinyvices (google it) has just started what they call TV Books....again, don't know what they charge, but this arena of book publishing is starting to pick up
  41. I love street photography, although it's not an easy genre! I'm blessed with living in a place where I just need to walk out the front door to have 1 000 000 cool photo opportunities and I'm trying to take advantage of it as best I can. I'm hoping to branch out into documentary photography at some stage, but street is a good place to learn IMO :)
  42. Paul, thanks for your comment. But as I'm sure you know generalisations are just that while they only seldomly add
    anything relevant to a discussion. Still, your comment caught my interest mainly because of your remark about
    ignoring (supposedly so) technical aspects. It got me visiting your site and amongst other things what I've found there
    is this: "...and believe that when the shutter is released, the act of image creation is complete"
    It's a valid approach of course but it surprised me because from a personal point of view I find that to be two
    conflicting arguments. Once I was trained and applied for many years the Zone system. One of the things you get
    out of that workflowwise is a Basic Printing Time. That's where you stop and most of us go on to produce the best
    print possible, technically as well as aesthatically because one is, or rather should be, the basis for the other. Like I
    said I'm not putting a qualification on this but I would be most interested in why you choose to work like this. Is it
    only a purist thing or are there other considerations?
  43. Ilkka, there is a lot more to street photography than shooting strangers on the street although public perception may be otherwise.

    Michael, I agree with Orville, very much so in fact.

    Ted, you may be right although it wasn't intentional

    Thomas, thanks for your extensive comment. It may well be that at least part of the difference lies in being able to work in a metropolis like NYC or SF (I'm sometimes envious of that). I live in a city of only 45.000 inhabitants so mostly I have to go look for it elsewhere and luckily I'm in a position to do that. Personally I don't care either because photographically speaking I can do whatever I like while I have been lucky enough to exhibit some of my work. I'm glad that you guys have a platform at hand that seems to be a bit more open to street work.

    Myriam, good for you!
  44. Note to all,

    I started this thread with some questions and the reactions to that have been manifold. Thanks all of you. If there has been some perceived negativism I don't feel responsible. The question is a valid one. The value of street photography (if not photography as a whole) I think has diminished. Not because of lack of quality but because of a change in culture, hence the low exposure that I perceive and that at least some of you acknowledge. I can only hope that on your side of the pond the impact of that is indeed not as profound as it seems to be here. Maybe Thomas is right and a new way can be found via the Blurbs of this world. One can only hope so because I firmly believe street photography as a phenomena is very important from a social as much as from a cultural point of view.

    Contrary to some I keep finding work, here and in galleries, that on occasion is bite the back of your hand beautiful and it's something I very much enjoy.

    Lastly, "Comments about moderation have never been allowed on the forums, but I guess attention to this is missing" I for one am aware of this but I see nothing wrong in taking as generously as is given.

    Have a nice sunday, all of you
  45. I don't know about other photographers, but I am thinking of giving up street photography secondary to the negative response I am getting from subjects and law enforcement. At a recent agricultural fair in my area I was confronted by a police officer for the second time in 6 weeks. I was a lone male with a camera and this time it made me a child molester, or someone thought and complained. I have to give this officer credit though. He knew the law and when he understood the situation his final words were "there's nothing wrong with taking pictures" and we parted on good terms. As opposed to the previous encounter with a city policeman here who threatened to cite me for harassment and still has me looking over my shoulder when I go downtown. Heck I'm even leaving my camera at home more often after that encounter. As I said in an earlier post about that encounter specifically, I've been doing street photography for something like 20 years and this is the first time I've ever had trouble. Now after the second encounter it just leaves me wondering if it is wort it.
  46. of the problems is that street photography is an art form that does not have any commercial value and therefore I guess it is difficult for many photographers to keep pursuing the art form. Those who pursue the art form would have to perhaps live with the fact the fact that they would have less commercial success than glamour or wild life photographers.

    It is also possible that street photographers are not able to capture the changing realities of the street - how it is reflecting globalisation, how flyovers and fast cars are destroying street short, sometimes I feel that the street photographers need to take a look at their shots and ask the question as to whether the contemporary times are getting reflected in their photography or not.
  47. Aside from all of the statements about the "difficulty" of street photography (artistically, culturally, legally, etc.) I think possibly the greatest challenge is combating a type of sameness that has killed public life. I've mentioned this to plenty of local Boston photographers about appearances... where everyone seems to present themselves to the public in a similar mode of dress. I was going to say "style" but there really are few people I see on the streets who have cultivated a sense of style. Aesthetically speaking, plain clothing, ugly cars (especially SUVs and mini-vans that kill the background of pictures) pose a different kind of challenge. I wasn't cognizant of these obstacles when I first started shooting...

    The only real control over the environment we have is to exercise patience. Wait for the van to pass by, wait for some "photogenic" background figures enter the scene... This is also part of the fun. It's like watching baseball... bottom of the 9th, 2 outs, loaded bases, full count... It's the anticipation of being able to pull of the shot you want while the world goes about it's haphazard business... all within seconds. And when you get home and see the lousy picture you've "anticipated"... so what? It's not exactly about results all the time. It's about training your mind and cultivating your instincts and developing a type of self control that hopefully begins to find its way into your pictures...

    Debraj: The only way you can catch the "changing realities of the street" is over time. One of our Boston mavens has been shooting for over 20 years and has said that part of street photography's charm or import is the nostalgia factor.

    Also, the street photographer as "serious amateur" has a noble ring to it and I think that describes the attitude even HCB savored (I think Bresson said something to that effect...).

    The End
  48. If a van is ugly, exploit its ugliness. The size and trappings of SUV say a lot about the American character.
  49. My comments before weren't directed to anyone that would be on this site... because if someone is spending the time reading here and learning, that person is obviously dedicating him or herself to photography. I think there are a great number of street photographers that produce amazing work. It's not the fault of these people that new photographers that use the term aren't as hard-working at they are.

    Ton, to answer your question, my preference to not digitally manipulate photos is my own choice and not some manifesto. I feel that it is my responsibility to do the best I can to photograph something properly and with honesty. If I messed up, better luck next time!
  50. I feel Scott is on to something. Artform of harvesting jewels of insight from public is associated today with invasion of
    privacy. The passion considered by Moms and "authorities" as a possible slippery slope towards perversion. Defending my
    right to BE there with a camera increasingly becoming a noisy distraction to the music.
  51. If a van is ugly, exploit its ugliness. The size and trappings of SUV say a lot about the American character.
    Care to elaborate on this cryptic statement? Do you have much first-hand knowledge of American "character", or have you simply engaged your mouth a bit prematurely?
  52. Good enough point, Alex...

    I should have added that if the SUV or other "trappings of ugliness" add to the picture, by all means, include it or even seek it out if you want to drive home a point... But, too often, they get in the way of a shot (the way I have envisioned it...). And, yes, the American character is monstrous! Evil! Distorted! Perverse! (and those are our positive qualities)...

    I've lived overseas and I don't think the US has cornered the market here... But this is about street photography, not a referendum on the character of the good people of the United States of America... which I don't think was Alex's point.

    Oh, and some of my best friends drive SUVs...
  53. Response to Joe Gallo:

    I agree that one can keep capturing a street over time and therefore understand the changes that have happened over time. However this is not what I was referring to. I think today street photography would be more interesting if we can capture the signs that mark the time that we are living in as they get reflected in the street - for example ads for call centre training posted on the wall, political graffiti, changing gender equations, etc. Of course some shots can also be brilliant just because of the composition itself.
  54. Nope, not with me !! Here's my latest shot, October 11, 2008. I am in the back seat of my friend's car, camera is out the side window, above the roof, moving. I can only "guess" at the angle, etc.(I do this quite a bit). As you can see, I'm doing a street shot of a photographer doing a 'street' shot! The location is "SoHo", downtown Manhattan. Bill P.
  55. Good points, Joe. Street photographers and their subjects are a reflection of today's cultural changes. I am very put off by
    the ugly and sloppy way too many people dress and do not photograph them. My instincts are drawn to certain faces,
    expressions, modes of dress, without fail. It's something I cannot describe or really care to, since I'm not sure I understand
    it or need to. I also think contemporary street photography is missing the active participation of women. Where are the
    women? I know or know of several women street photographers such as Nitsa, Maria Szulc, Melanie Einzig, and Lara
    Wechsler, but for such a large segment of the photographic population, why don't women show more interest in street
    photography? Is it the perceived maleness of it, typified by the tough-talking irascible Winogrand? Is it the "danger" of
    shooting openly out on the streets? Personally I try as often as possible to encourage my female photographer friends to do
    street photography. I hope that sews some kind of seed because talented women photographers need to be encouraged.
  56. I think Jeff Spirer summed up the dichotomy of street photography rather well when he said, "Street photography is primarily of interest to other street photographers. There is very little public interest in street photography save a few, probably Winogrand being the most prominent example. Many people often called street photographers, including HCB, took a much more documentary approach, and their photos present a much stronger picture of some aspect of life beyond happening to be taken on the street."

    The way I see it, there are two types of street photography: the first where the photographer basically jumps in front of someone with a camera, often using flash, and blasts away right in their face and the second, practised by the likes of HCB, which was a more thoughtful, considered and, IMHO, more worthwhile approach. The fact that the art-loving public is still interested in the HCB "school", for want of a better word, whilst largely ignoring the "mugging with a camera" school, says it all for me.

    Personally, I think Winogrand, far from representing a high-point for street photography, actually tipped the genre into a downward spiral from which it's yet to recover. In my opinion, he was of the mugging school who just happened to shoot so much that he occasionally got lucky.
  57. Last August I was speaking to the owner of "La Chambre Clair" in Paris, showing him my work on Paris (http://www.holos- He told me that it could be sold if: 1) the prints were at least 40x50cm and 2) they were all printed in
    barited paper. I think there is a market for street photography, but it's really a niche market. Very very small.
  58. Orville, you raise a good point about women participating in sp. They would very much bring a different perspective to the
    genre. Look at Helen Levitt's work. Is there anyone quite so adept at capturing momentary body language, especially in a
    child?<p>By the way, you may not be aware that Maria Szulc used to post here quite a bit, until some particularly vile
    language was directed at her by a regular poster or two who had previously been banned on this forum. They came back
    under pseudonyms known to most who posted here. I believe that some of the antipathy you may be noting here between
    posters who have been here a while stems in part from that distasteful episode.
  59. In response to the topic Orville brought up regarding women street photographers... I know a lot of women who take pictures and enjoy street photography but they're too intimidated to take to the streets... and when they do shoot they usually rely on long lenses. Uniformly (from my sample pool) the genre seems too confrontational... if there are any women reading this, what do you think?

    Debraj: Each individual has their subject matter that may contain elements of what you're after, but too often political agendas (broadly speaking) produce some of the worst "art" imaginable. Bertolt Brecht would have been a great street photographer. He described his plays as "didactic art"... So maybe you can be the founder of a school called "Didactic Street Photography" and include progenitors such as Hine, Dorothea Lange, and other FSA photographers...
  60. Andy, thanks for that bit of history. It's unfortunate but not surprising given the bravery some feel from behind their monitors
    and keyboards. I remember back before the web became popular people used to rely on bulletin boards to post their often
    contentious opinions. Sometimes if someone disagreed with you your telephone might stop working or your computer would be
    remotely wiped clean. Maybe that's why I'm still intolerant of nasty posters. This place is nothing compared to those old days,
    however. As relatively civil as it gets here, it's not the sort of environment most female photographers want to join. I would love
    to have more of them here and see how the character of this and the Leica forum change. Women always find a way to
    improve our lives, so I see it as a great thing.
  61. Bruce, I do not agree with you about Garry Winogrand. It's too bad that his mental slide in late life has changed people's
    perceptions of him. I've never met him but have spoken to several friends and photographers who knew him extensively.
    Some liked him, some did not. Some liked his photography, a few did not. However, no one thought he was merely fortunate
    because he shot so many rolls of film. My own study of his books gave me the strong impression that he was a very
    precise photographer and knew exactly what he wanted. I've heard the argument several times that his quantity meant
    occasional quality, and that would be true if he only had a few good images, but he had many fantastic images. No one is
    that lucky. Also if you think street photography, or even contemporary street photography, does not matter to the public I
    would invite you down to an opening at either the Domeischel or Sasha Wolf galleries in NYC. Great work is great work. In
    fact I believe the public responds better to a Jeff Mermelstein opening than a Tilmans opening, not necessarily in terms of
    headcount but certainly in "getting it". Where street photography is losing now is in terms of young and established collectors
    choosing to support Tilmans or Lux and others. Look, even if you could care less about galleries and collectors and
    museums, these professionals are the force behind this loss of favor with street photography, whose simple esthetic is not
    compatible with theirs. One thing you are right about is that too many current street photographers, including some famous
    disciples of his, merely ape his work without adding anything uniquely their own. That is what drains the blood out of it much
    more than Winogrand.
  62. I think women can handle their own....
  63. Ton,

    This member's response, above, symbolizes much of why you may feel 'street photography' is a desert in Europe.


    'Paris is an especially unlikely place to see street photography in a gallery, in France it's effectively illegal to exhibit or publish most of what we think of as street.

    'But really, a lot of what is now canonical art was derided and ignored in the era it was produced. We may all be famous once we're dead.'


    That's it in a nutshell.

    I went to Mois du Photo two years ago and especially attended the giant exhibition at the Carousel du Louvre where the creme de la creme of European galleries and artists was exhibited and was astonished (then) that there was next to none (and no contemporary) street photography exhibited.

    Then I began to reflect on the study of French and German law two members undertook for me regarding publishing and/or exhibiting photographic works that involved strangers who did not give their consent, and at the same time to recall certain posts here and elsewhere which emphasized that European publications will NOT publish photos involving recognizable strangers without those strangers granting release, even if in the US they would be called 'fair game' for publication because they were in 'public'.

    Even many (or most) reputable US publications I understand now want releases for editorial (not commercial, but editorial) images, when in fact few honest street photographers can produce them. I have a close acquaintance who shot for major airlines in-flight magazine and she has told me of having to run after people, release in hand to get them to sign releases before her company would publish her work, even though it was not 'for advertising'. They were just 'being safe' -- fearful of defending an unmeritorious lawsuit which can be both expensive and cumbersome.

    I have discovered through the aid of fellow members that European privacy laws do NOT prevent one from TAKING photos in public places (though police and polizei often have that mistaken view), but they do prevent (as noted above) the publication and exhibition of such works.

    So, when I attended the giant photo exhibition at the Carrousel du Louvre two years ago, the only 'street' seen was some very old Henri Cartier-Bresson and not even one Ronis or Doisneau (they might have been somewhere, but nowhere that I saw. However, just prior to that, by a half year, I encountered a crowd two blocks long near the Paris City Hall waiting to view an exhibition of photos by Willy Ronis, considered by many the living embodiment of Parisian street photographers.

    Somehow, with his reputation and his older work, he managed to escape the broad brush of 'privacy' that has swept the continent, stifling photographers who would take interesting, telling photos.

    I still shoot away in Paris and anywhere else I am, because I have no intention of publishing in Europe.

    To the photographer above who complained that he was seen or identified as a probable 'child molester' because he had a camera (presumably a very good one), that is a hysteria that he swept both the US and France -- and more so the USA. I have heard these words: 'You got a pretty expensive rig there; that's gotta be for child molesting; I'm gonna call the cops' from a 450 pound 6'10' man who had the IQ of a carrot.

    Some people you cannot reason with and those horrible people, the child molesters, have made it worse because a few of them (including one prominent one in California) have flaunted their freedoms by hanging around playgrounds then publishing provocative images on the Internet, taunting parents.

    No wonder the parents are 'up in arms'. If only they used some good judgment.

    In Ukraine where I sometimes reside, if I point a camera at a child, and a parent sees it, the parent is most likely to be very proud that I consider the child worthy of a photo with professional looking gear -- their kids (in their minds at least) are, as in all Garrison Keillor's stories, 'better (looking) than average' at the very least.

    I shoot away in Paris or other European cities I happen to be in, but I have no confusion that my work will ever be publishable or salable on the continent because of privacy issues. One only has to look at the Paris Metro work published in my portfolio to understand why.

    [that being said, I often on the Paris Metro or elsewhere am passed by individual flics and even phalanxes of flics who are on the lookout for bad behavior, and although I've been snapping happily away and they've seen me, they've never once stopped me. A word of caution, though: The flics at Gare de l'Est have an entirely different view,and if they even see a professional looking camera they'll chase you away under threat of arrest -- this has happened a number of times to me]

    It isn't the actual photography that appears to be illegal in European countries, as the publication and/or exhibition. So, Ton, to the extent you draw your conclusions about what you see published in the EU and in galleries in the EU, it's gonna be skewed by preventive laws.

    Nevertheless the points made above about shooting in the US are well made, as well.

    However, I am a little surprised at the assertion above, that Henri Cartier-Bresson was possibly NOT a street photographer because he also was an artist and his works were composed with care -- since when does shooting 'street' and having 'good composition' with artistic sensibilities have to be mutually exclusive?

    I'll be in Europe soon again, shooting away. I've been told by flics in a famous and very large Eastern European city maybe I shouldn't take photos of their world famous Metro with the chandeliers, but as they were trying to make their point with me, I also was taking their photo of them trying to explain to me why I should not be taking photos as shutter sounds could not be heard above the roar of Metro trains sometimes at that time. A 'street photographer' sometimes has to be bold, but caution also must be exercised -- an engaging smile can work wonders as Winogrand often showed, as he worked crowds, smiling and shaking hands.

    And, later I learned that there is no prohibition against doing what I was doing in that large Eastern Capital; just some idea held by nosy cops.

    I was in New York City two days ago, on public property and a young cop stopped me and wanted to know if I had a photography permit, since i was on public property taking a photo of private property (a completely nonsensical point of view under any view of the law).

    I looked him in the eye and said to him 'are you out of the loop? All the restrictions on photography have been rescinded. Didn't you read the Mayor Bloomberg's new rules, which invite photographers to photograph in New York City; and besides you only stopped me because my cameras are more expensive looking, because while we're talking about 25 people with smaller cameras have been shooting.

    I thanked him for his interest, reminded him to look up the law, then took a couple of more shots to finish my task, then just walked away, leaving this young cop quite confused.

    I acted with authority and civility - and certainly acted as though I knew what I was talking about.

    I had been similarly accosted in Munchen's Flughafen by a polizei who told me I couldn't take photos, and just lectured him back that he didn't know German law, that I had had it looked up and that it did not prevent me from TAKING the photos, but only from exhibiting them.

    He backed off. It pays to be well informed and authoritative sometimes (not always). Sometimes it's best to beat a tactical retreat.

    Street photography always has an element of risk to it; Cartier-Bresson never wanted to be publicly identified -- he felt it jeopardized his life, and he probably was correct, as he moved around the world through changing cultures especially in the Far East where he often was in the middle of cultural turmoil.

    There are always going to be people who object to 'street photography' -- perhaps mistaking their privacy rights (in the US especially, where such rights are largely truncated in public), foolishly mistaking (sometimes intentionally so, I think) the photographer for child molester, without any evidence or reason at all other than their own innate fears, and from people who seek to protect public 'propriety' from having things they don't want recorded end up in a photograph.

    In some countries if somebody does something local citizens regard as 'not pretty' or 'demeaning' to their country', the photographer may find someone standing in front of his lens as he goes to record that act, or a hand blocking his lens's view, etc.

    These are risks of the trade; it requires a special sort of personality to record street.

    I started on the streets of NYC and at a time when there were race riots, campus riots and being in public even without a camera was pretty dangerous, then went to Viet Nam with a camera, so these things seem rather tame to me. I've always seen worse.

    The only time it did get really personally dangerous, and I got shot, I had a camera next to me -- and no film.

    That was the worst ignominy.

    Ton, whether or not 'street photography' is gaining or losing in popularity, it will always have value -- but often times the value is not recognized for one or more generations.

    When Henri Cartier-Bresson as he retired in 1969 brought his giant exhibition to San Francisco to a famous museum there, I could have bought any of his prints for $100 to $200, but I only earned $145 a week, so I had to pass up the chance of a lifetime.

    Look at the prices now. He was famous but the prices of his works did not reflect that fame.

    Maybe few collect 'street photography' now, but in years hence, there may be lots of collectors and few genuinely great collections . . . .and I'd like to see the prices on a few great collections when they become collectible . . . in the future.

    Frankly, you wondered if street photographers would be 'touchy' about this subject''; I'm not the least touchy. I just shoot for the fun of it and the thrill of a good capture (and the ability to show it here or elsewhere.)

    Anything else is pure gravy.

    I don't think street photography is 'becoming a thing of the past' except that the worth of today's street photos often is not recognized until the past is upon us.

    John (Crosley)
  64. The past way of making and relating to all forms of photography is changing as it always will.
  65. It's up to photographers to evolve photographic forms that have resonance. Really, the question of whether its a thing of the past is really sort of a non-question. It really doesn't matter. I'm not what is meant by the term "street photogaphy". It almost sounds like its used as some sort of religious sect.
  66. sorry, should be "I'm not sure what is ment...."
  67. I find my self fiddling in the computer trying to adjust raw files insted of takting pictures.
  68. John that was very interesting and informative. The thread is worth reading.
  69. It's up to photographers to evolve photographic forms that have resonance.
    I'm not sure what is the term "street photogaphy.."

    I remember looking at Rembrandt's portrait of the Clothmakers Guild cyndics in Amsterdam and thinking is this a
    perfect candid photograph ? (Ton, don't get offended, I love Rembrandt). This is one of his most celebrated
    paintings and is invaluable today. May be if he lived today he would be a phographer. And if HCB lived in 17th
    century he could have been a painter and his paintings would sell for millions today. May be it's just a matter of
    technical skills and how deep the content is, no matter how we label it?
  70. John,

    thanks for that extensive reply. French law didn't change until quite recently and yes it's become quite difficult since
    then. It seems paranoia is contagious. (I don't think though that German law requires a release) Nevertheless, until
    not so long ago street photography could be found in some of the many galleries in Paris.

    'But really, a lot of what is now canonical art was derided and ignored in the era it was produced. We may all be
    famous once we're dead.' Of course that's true. Still, the important role photography once played socially and
    culturally has profoundly changed. That was my point. More than the speed with which images reach us it's the
    sheer and ongoing bombardment with images that has desensitised us as a society. Do you really think HCB would
    be regarded as highly as a contemorary photographer? I for one am rather doubtfull.

    As for exhibiting street work, I have (had) no problems in our country. Dutch law is a bit more liberal it seems. In the
    last year I've been to London, Berlin, Milan, Antwerp and a few times to Paris. Maybe I'm just lucky but I've never
    been hassled by police or guards, not even at Gare de l'Est (I was there on my way to the Canal St. Martin, you
    should really go there) . Although I have to say I believe what some here say, namely that it's mostly attitude. That's
    not questioning yours of course although you shouldn't be surprised to be adressed at an airport, especially in
    Is doing street photography a risk? Sure, just as life is a risk. You may get clobbered at some point but that can also
    happen just walking down the street without a camera. Or in your words: " requires a special sort of personality to
    record street" Maybe that's why there are relative few women who do street, although it's anybody's guess.

    John, it certainly wasn't me who suggested that the photographers here are feisty and touchy.

    "I don't think street photography is 'becoming a thing of the past' except that the worth of today's street photos often
    is not recognized until the past is upon us"
    Let us just hope that's true.
  71. Sam, it takes quit a lot to offend me. You're right on the Nightwatch though, it was refused by the Guild because they expected a formal portrait.
  72. Of course I could be wrong but I get a sense that street photography as an art has become something that not a
    lot of people appreciate anymore, let alone gallery's.

    Have people ever really appreciated street photography? To the majority of people what is interesting about some
    photos of folk wandering about the streets….and let’s be really honest a lot of street photography is just about
    photos of people wandering about the streets…there does not seem to be any rhyme or reason why they were taken in
    the first place. So, I don’t really think it does any harm for someone to point out these facts and encourage the
    wannabe street photographers to raise their game.

    Critique is equally important as encouragement.

    It seems to me that too many photographers are more interested in where the nearest gallery is ,being told how
    wonderful they are, and why they have not been recognised as the second coming of Henri.
  73. Peter A , Oct 19, 2008; 10:03 p.m.
    The past way of making and relating to all forms of photography is changing as it always will.

    Good point! :)
  74. Allen has touched on the essential issue, in my opinion: much of the photography being done these days,
    regardless of genre, is simply awful, either artistically, technically, or in many cases, BOTH. If you don't
    believe it, pick any genre here on and browse.

    This is not the fault of digital per se; digital simply removes all cost barriers to mediocrity, making the
    marginal cost of yet one more poorly-composed, poorly-executed image next to nothing.

    I'd maintain that best "street photography" has something to say, and say artfully, about the human condition;
    the same is true about any other genre. Problem is, the vast majority of images being made say nothing except
    "check out my new automatic camera with these f/stop thingies!"

    Curmudgeon out.
  75. Wow, what a great thread! In response to, where are the women?

    For me, I’m not a street photographer. I did a bit of it back in college
    during a couple of my black and white photography courses. For certain assignments I would take my camera and
    walk downtown and look for photos. I love to observe human interaction. I really enjoyed that time in my life,
    and that was my first introduction to photography as an art form. I went to England after college for 3 months,
    and did a couple weeks backpacking in Europe. During that entire time I did the touristy shots and some street
    photography. After that time I took an artistic hiatus for a few years and it’s only been the last two years that
    I have picked up a paint brush and my camera, and began to express myself again.

    I have thought many times about taking my camera back to the streets and wandering around downtown snapping
    photos, like I did back in college. However, for me, it is the safety factor that is stopping me from doing it.
    I’m not
    as naïve as I was back then and now, I’m living in a bigger city with a lot more crime. Even though I’m always
    smart when I go out and make sure I don’t put myself in stupid situations, I still am very leery to go out on my
    own. I wanted to go out and scout locations downtown for a shoot recently and chose not to and went with the
    easiest and safest choice instead. Also it’s my own silly reservations of photographing strangers and being
    worried about a negative reaction I might get from one of them.

    The one thing that draws me to street photography is the story or the honest interaction between people, whether
    it’s one of love, disgust, indifference, etc…I find there are only a select few that speak to me. Others I view
    to be more of a documentation nature, like random shots of billboards, storefronts, someone walking their dog, or
    reading a newspaper. They can be interesting to look at but they tend not to engage me as much. If it was a pic
    of someone reading a newspaper on a bus, while the person next to them is glancing over trying to
    read it over their shoulder without the other noticing, that type of interaction speaks to me because the
    photographer managed to capture a moment in time that we all can relate to…I think when it comes to street
    photography we all look at it and ask, How do I relate to this image? Does it draw an emotion from me? Those
    images that answer those questions and allow us to become a part of it, are the most successful ones at keeping
    our interest.

    I agree with John that a photo’s true worth is not recognized until the past is upon us. I love looking at old
    photos and viewing the history in it, the effect time has on ours lives. To me, that tells a story and the photos
    that I now view to be more of a documentation nature, change into story telling ones, as time goes by. Strange
    how that is…

    And touching on what Debraj said, I do know that I am guilty of trying to get a shot that doesn’t have a cell
    tower in it, or electrical lines cutting through a field, an SUV, or trying to shoot a popular landmark without
    any distractions in it, etc…However, I imagine 60 yrs from now we will look back at those photos, say of a 20
    something woman, covered in designer labels from head to toe, heaving herself into her large SUV, while talking
    on her cell phone…and be intrigued and
    thankful that those shots were taken of something stereotypical and even comical of that time, instead of the
    overly abundant common shots of landmarks.

    I do also feel that in our times, there is a huge emphasis and interest put on “famous” people, or the latest
    fad. If we see a photo of a random person, some may think, what’s my connection with this person, why should I
    care, and what is their significance, and if they can’t relate to that photo they move on. However if it was
    someone “famous” they’d stop and spend more time viewing it. It’s sad really, but I think that affects the
    “average” persons’ mentality and appreciation towards street photography, as well.

  76. Desirae, that was very thoughtful and incisive. You hit the nail right on the head that good street photography makes the
    ordinary seem extraordinary and the extraordinary likewise seem ordinary. I agree that my favorite photographs, and not
    just street photography, since all good images follow this same basic premise, allow me to relate to it on several levels. You
    have emotional, intellectual, and visual. Not all great images will contain all of these elements, but the ones we continually
    return to study and admire and perhaps learn from do have these. To cut to something you also said, I would encourage
    you to enlist a patient friend to accompany you while you go out street shooting. You must conquer your fear each and
    every time out there. I get scared just about every time, but I've learned a simple exercise; I start to stare at everyone
    passing by. When I can hold their gaze without fear, then I am ready to take street pictures. If I can't then I take pictures of
    buildings and beer cans and call it a day.
  77. Andy, I forgot to mention that that's a hell of a good comment about women and an equally good picture.
  78. Allen,

    you raise some good and interesting points. "Have people ever really appreciated street photography?"
    Sure they have. Look at especially the first half of the last century. The world was a much larger place then than it is
    today which is one of the reasons so many of them got recognised for their work.

    "So, I don’t really think it does any harm for someone to point out these facts and encourage the wannabe street
    photographers to raise their game. Critique is equally important as encouragement"
    Well, who wouldn't agree with that, especially the latter.

    "It seems to me that too many photographers are more interested in where the nearest gallery is ,being told how
    wonderful they are, and why they have not been recognised as the second coming of Henri"
    True, there are some of those but they would have a hard time finding a gallery if their work wasn't up to it. Secondly,
    I think we all seek recognition one way or another. Just the fact that we post here is proof of that and frankly I can
    see nothing wrong in that. All of us may be driven by different motivations for doing what we do. For some it may be a
    creative outlet, for some it's merely fun while others can be idealistic about it. Whatever it is, I suspect not many
    would go on with it if there was no exposure of one's work to some extent. As far as HCB is concerned, I can only
    speak for myself. I'd rather be recognised for my own work than for copying or emulating someone else's. In the end
    however it's all in the perception of those that view our work.
  79. Desirae, good post. I think following Orville's advice could be worthwhile trying.
  80. Street Photography is already a thing of the past. There is nothing new under the sun. The best thing about street might be that people with minimum investment are enjoying what they do and they should keep on doing it.
  81. Wow, thanks guys. It's funny that you suggest that Orville, as I had made that a goal of my own not too long ago, to
    make more eye contact while talking to people, also with people that I pass by, and to also hold my head up high
    when I walk. My goal is to become more confident, and more aware of the world around me. Doing those simple
    things, I thought would help me achieve that, and I definitely can see how that will help with my confidence to
    try street photography again. The only funny/negative thing is the more eye contact I make, the more I get
    approached because I'm a young, good looking woman! I guess it means that I'm interested or
    men! Haha! Oh least it's on a positive note. ;-)
  82. Desirae... the thing about being observant in public (and armed with a camera) is that there's plenty of people who are a-swim in their own world (and aren't always aware they're being observed). The more preoccupied they are, the more they seem to reveal their private face in public... that's always held some fascination for me. Even better when you come upon 2 or more people similarly engaged... everyone has their own techniques (and reasons) for getting out there.
  83. Orville wrote:
    I get scared just about every time ...>>
    That's remarkable. As many years as you've been doing this, and as well as you do it, I probably would have guessed that would happen very rarely, and only in a completely new environment, one foreign to you.
    I appreciate your candor.
    On some days it's clear to me I just don't "have it." I'm impatient, inattentive, or preoccupied. And since I'm not heading out regularly to shoot -- that's a function of schedule and where I live, not at all due to lack of interest -- I get annoyed with myself on those occasions.
  84. Michael, to be without fear is to have no heart, no mind, no truth. To occasionally overxome fear is a high no drug can surpass.
  85. Well put, Orville.

    I hope you realize when I used the term "remarkable" I meant it literally -- as in worthy of being noticed. It wasn't intended as a negative.
  86. Le’ street photography has been dead for years, dead as a doorknob before the likes of any of you lugs were feasting on
    your mamas breasts.

    Back in my days street was street, roaming the streets, day and night, constantly prowling for something decisive,
    something real. Why one night after enjoying several servings of absinthe into the le’ petite hours of the morning Gene
    Atget and myself, oh and that crazy Brassai were strolling through Pigalle when we ran into a rabbi, a priest and an
    Irishman, mmm, never mind that’s a story for another night.

    Why we’d photograph all day and night regardless of weather conditions, in the morning develop our film in puddles and
    do it all over again the next day and the next and the next. Never once did I hear Doisneau say “hey Hank, you think
    street is dead?”

    As I have always said photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they vanish there is no
    contrivance on earth which can make them return. Around here it’s all the same old shots of the same old people
    crossing the same old street, jumping over the same old puddle, over and over and over.

    Le’ merde, there hasn’t been anything worth looking at never mind hanging since Josef and little Bobby Frank put there
    cameras down.

    The whole lot of you posers should trade in your cameras for photocopiers. Le’ Christ.
  87. Hank - Ever do speed with Gene Smith?

    Acknowledgment of street in the art scene will come and go.
    People will do it anyway, and from time to time shaky shots of back-lit redhead kids and seagulls shot w/ a 300mm lens will be called street.
    And we'll see it all on flickr.

    If I ever meet anyone who paid off their M by selling street pictures, I'll give them a hi-five.
    Because I can't afford to buy them a beer.

    People who do street, really do it, just can't help it. I have tan lines from my wrist strap.
    But can't afford to process. I just keep shooting, assuming I'm getting pictures.

    One thing is certain - it is increasingly becoming illegal.
    If not straying from the vision of the what, nine, originators.

    as they say, shoot first & ask permission later.
    If you don't, your fault.
    If you suck, your fault.

    But if someone wants to give you money for it, keep your mouth shut and get back out there.

    And try not to get arrested or stabbed.
  88. Couldn't be more correct, Henri... Or as we said in 5th form Latin: "Cave cibum, valde malus est." "If you have to ask the question, you already know the answer."
  89. “shot w/ a 300mm lens will be called street. And we'll see it all on flickr” And among them were the idolaters who had cast aside their rangefinders, forsaking the given word Tri X, and had removed the love from their hearts for the prime. In their lustful ways they fornicated among themselves worshipping the false god zoom, and taking, and seeing photos in colour…..
  90. Just because when a style is out doesn't mean you should put down your gears or else you will be look weird in the public. There is many reasons why someone will not shoot anymore. Financial, job, commercial purpose, the time the location, weather condition, stuff like that. That is why you are seeing less and less. Probably there will be more in the summer I hope, because it is winter now, most of the college students are preparing their midterm, perhaps their paper at this time.
  91. Well I still LOVE doing Street Photography
  92. Hey Guys :)
    I just read through this whole forum and found it really interesting !!!
    The response from Orville Robertson 19th Oct regarding where are the women in street photography ? Yeah, I do agree, there's really not that many (unless Im not really looking). I'm a female currently living in OZ and I love street photography. I don't wanna appear sexist here or anything but I tend to also think, from personal experience, as a female it is so much easier to get shots of children especially. This kinda sucks how some generalise photog men as being perverts or something when they really are not. But yes I would like to see more women participating in this field. And when I do shoot with partners none of them are my female friends, all of them are males. My girlfriends either don't like to walk so much or it's just too "boyish". But I just love taking photos of life ! And the great thing I love about street is the unplanned nature of it all... it's fast and unpredictable !
  93. Hi. This is a really interesting, and in many ways moving, thread. I don't think I have ever taken the time to read through a thread as long as this in my 14-year internet life, but I just did, and it was very rewarding. Thank you.

    Just wanted to share some personal thoughts with you from a newbie (apologies in advance for the random stream-of-consciousness style sharing):

    What was particularly jarring for me were some of the comments expressed, that because of the proliferation of cameras and photo sharing web sites etc., there are many many more pictures being taken and displayed, but the quality has gone down. It was jarring because it's so true, and I feel to be helplessly part of it.

    When I started, I went about doing what I _thought_ to be street photography. I captured random shots of lots of people in the street; I went furtive a bit and stole portraits of people here and there; I took a lot of pictures of people's backs. And so on. And I thought, great, I'm a street photographer too, yeeha.

    Then I started trying to read up on what constitutes good street photography. Maybe browse a few picture books of the masters. Then I started subscribing to flickr groups on street photography (there are lots of them, believe me), looked at image after image, and at one point literally became nauseated.

    Nauseated because there is so much _sameness_ everywhere.

    So many pointless pictures of people walking by. So many out of focus, mis-aligned, and poorly composed shots.

    And this was doubly nauseating because my own attempts are just like those too. It was really hard to come to grips with the fact that a lot of my own work, what I thought belonged to a certain "style", were actually snaps that I didn't put enough thought into. Snaps that, well, sucked.

    So, when I read related comments here about how the quality of street photography may have gone downhill, it really resounded with me. Hard.

    I did a search on online street photography courses, and was dismayed to find offerings / comments which seemed to suggest good street photography doesn't require good composition, doesn't require good technique, it's all about being brave enough to push a camera in front of someone's face without feeling emabarrassed. How can that be?

    My own discovery, reinforced by some of the comments / laments here, is that good street photography (and good _anything_, really), requires hard work. It requires an emotional investment in the strangers around me. It requires that I observe and try to appreciate the underlying beauty and humanity of others, even if externally or aesthetically it doesn't look appealing. It requires that I try to feel what others feel. And all this has to be done at the same time as getting composition, focus, exposure, lighting, and everything else right, either through practice or preparation. It's not supposed to be easy.

    Going back (finally) to respond to the OP's question. My glass is half full answer is that I don't think street photography will become a thing of the past, for as long as there are people who are still intent to treat it as something of human connection, of communication, of emotion, of empathy. If you put enough into it, you will get something out of it, hopefully more than the amount you put in. It will stay with you, and for those images that carry true emotional value, they will be timeless, and will therefore not be a thing of the past.
  94. P.S. I also invite you to view this gallery of street pictures of Hong Kong, taken in the 1960s.

    Just to respond to some of the comments here that modern things have become "ugly" and more mundane ... my own inspiration from viewing the above exhibition, is that a lot of the things photographed must have seemed very ordinary and not worthy of interest for the people living through those times also. But the photographer still (in my mind) transformed what were some very ordinary things with good form, composition, lighting and timing, into something which still carries resonance today.

    Perhaps the picture of that ugly SUV will, in a few decades time, be looked at with the same nostalgia, and be dissected in colleges states-wide (and perhaps in outer space also) in 10,000 word essays about how the photo is a piece of social commentary on the abject environmental irresponsibility of the age, when all that happened was a !@#()*$&(*& SUV just got in the !)(*&#@#()$&* way of your shot.

    Happy shooting!
  95. It's 2015.
    I just had a re-read.
    This remains one of the all-time great forum postings.
    And in my opinion, street is far from dead; it occupies the greater part of my life. If it has a smaller part now, in 2015, on, it may be in large part because of its great ascendancy on FLICKR which has a Huge street following (and a free storage cloud of 1 Terabyte plus no membership fee -- though no real good way to download those photos, so that terabyte is mainly 'for show' and 'for advertising purposes'.
    I shot street all day and will be up all night processing it, then for the next years processing and reprocessing and discovering and rediscovering from past shots the ones I missed that I shouldda seen but just didn't until I got a better exposure to both photography and the street genre).I
    I keep learning from my initial, naif approach to street, even from that first roll which produced one 'good one, a keeper', to today's several keepers, including maybe a lifetime best.
    Who could ask for more?
    John (Crosley)

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