What is "Street Photography" ?

Discussion in 'Street and Documentary' started by MrAndMrsIzzy, Aug 14, 2020.

  1. Vincent Peri

    Vincent Peri Metairie, LA

    Thanks for the heads up. Before the pandemic struck, I would regularly go down to New Orleans' French Quarter and take loads of pictures. Funny thing, though, there were virtually no people in any of my photos. I've been thinking about changing that once the pandemic subsides.
    mikemorrell likes this.
  2. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Yes. Good point - exploring that point: my understanding is that your point (as it is written) was predicated by the viewer seeing the image being in the context of 'a book', or at the least a pair or three photos or maybe a Title or some explanatory Commentary or Text accompanying the Photo written by the Photographer.

    The Title of that photo is "House on the Corner, Salzburg, Austria".

    I made the photo because (some) Architecture is of interest to me - and this particular house was yellow: and being that colour the house as a Subject was of greater interest to me.

    What I am now pondering is: if we could forget all that is written above, on first sight, viewing image only, would we classify "House on the Corner, Salzburg, Austria" as Street Photography, or not?

  3. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I think that these Photographs indicate the value of "Street Photography" as being worthwhile also as historical documentation:


    "Stage Door" - Sydney State Theatre (Stage Door) circa. 1973
    (Minolta 101 / 135mm lens Kodachrome 25)

    Last edited: Aug 15, 2020
  4. Let's try my completing my response one more time ...

    'Street Photography' is probably my favourite photography genre. There are crossovers between Street, Travel and Journalisme. There are (IMHO) also many subjects and styles of 'Street Photography. So I don't think you'll find one single overarching definition. My guess is that - at least for any project or series - the best street photographers have some kind of intention and/or style of street photography. This may be explicit or implicit. Of the currently active street photographers, Bruce Gilden, Martin Parr and Eric Kim are well known. Their subjects and styles per project/series are very different.

    Rather than looking for definitions, I suggest looking at a lot of so-called street photos and deciding for yourself whether or not you find them interesting and if so, what is it about them that makes them interesting.
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  5. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I reckon that's good advice addressing the Opening Post.

    I think it's good to have balance: personally I don't lean in favour of definitions for items other than those which are defined Mathematically, therefore I am very comfortable with definitives such as 'Zoom Lens' and 'Prime Lens' but not so comfortable with 'Depth of Field' being a definitive; because although DoF can be explained by Mathematics, there are variables in which case I think of DoF as a Guide or a Rule of Thumb.

    By the same token, of it being a guide, I think that definitions such as 'Street Photography' (and discussing same) serve a good purpose, even if that purpose is for the definition, to be defied.

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  6. To be honest, even had it been titled, I would likely have missed the title. I find myself often not thinking to look at titles unless they’re unavoidable. That said, had I seen the title, It might have had some (limited) influence on me.

    Were I to encounter your photo untitled, I likely wouldn’t have thought about classifying it unless prompted to do so. I’m prone to looking at photos with a pretty open mind and often from the standpoint of their open possibilities. I’m sure there are exceptions when photos strike me as more clear and fixed. And yet I do agree that discussions like this (as opposed to more strict definitions when it comes to genres and classifications) can be helpful in sorting out various approaches to photography.

    Were someone to ask, and your photo stood alone, I likely would not have thought of Street Photography. Contrast that to Harry Callahan's photos in the book Color, which often focus on architecture and detail and lack people (though maybe half of the photos do have people), but which I do think of as Street work (and a lot more).





    Street may be an attitude or sensibility, a suggestiveness in the work, as much as or more than a matter of actual subject.
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  7. That's why I like the terms "Local Color", "Random Photography", and\or "Found Image" better than "Street Photography". "Street" (as I see it) implies a specific. The others. Not so!....Izzy
  8. "Street may be an attitude or sensibility, a suggestiveness in the work, as much as or more than a matter of actual subject."
    When I am out shooting 'street' my mindset is very different than any other time. Just as my choice of camera format informs the imagery, my mindset opens doors to a different language than I use in other categories. The label street has evolved for me. I now often think more of street mode and together with the location,,, if outdoors it is street photography.
    As sam suggested the sensibility, the suggestiveness is significant in viewing the work as street.
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  9. "Just as my choice of camera format informs the imagery" inoneeye.

    I think creativity// vision is what it is all about other than choice of gear or formats. A cannot see that path leading anywhere other than gear fondling.

    So,what is street photography all about? Well, to mind my mind it is very simple.

    It is what you want it to be ,you decide, you the photographer.
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  10. Amen!....Izzy
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  11. Many artists/photographers are in touch with their tools to the extent they will inspire them in certain ways. One can experience that without being a gear head. Many gear heads can achieve that kind of intimacy with their tools as well just as many just collect and don’t. A lot of snappers may not understand this because it takes a degree of depth as well as a kind of sensitivity they not only lack but can’t even empathize with or imagine.​
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2020
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  12. "Many gear heads can achieve that kind of intimacy with their tools" Sam/Fred

    Intimacy with a lump of plastic/metal, Hmm. But what has that to do with creativity or vision?

    Hey, photography encompass all. Who am I, or anyone, to say the enjoyment of photography is not about fondling a lump of plastic/metal.

    If that is what its about for some folk...why not.
  13. Like I said, can’t even imagine.
  14. I understand that you probably can't. unfortunate lack of imagination, missed oppurtunity imo. . It's nothing to do with the metal it has much to do with the format as stated and awareness of the tools.
  15. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Moderator Note: I have removed two comments. Please stop adding fuel to inflame any school-yard bickering and keep on the topic, without the personal spite: thank you, Gentlemen.
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  16. Human Nature.
    Fences and File Cabinets.......
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  18. ian-john-series-04-ww.jpg

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