What makes a good street photographer & photograph?
So what is it that epitomizes the archetypal street photographer and photograph?
Is it the impulse, spontaneity and energy of the moment that the image defines?
Is it the invisibility of the photographer or indeed their abillity to cajole and strike-up a rapport with the subject?
Here's one of my sorry attempts!
That's a photograph to be proud of, however I hope that boy was disinfected after his encounter with those disease ridden rats all around him!
A good street photograph should capture a great moment that ordinary non-photographic morons would simply ignore. A street photographer is someone who bothers to carry a camera at all times.
Someone good at role playing.
Good afternoon Marty,
I think attitude is important. It is better to have some connection with the individual in the image, rather than a shy disconnect. In my opinion, that enables the viewer to become part of the image. Thought you might like this:
This is Magnum providing different images each day. Largely some famous and well known photographers, lots of veterans of photojournalism, and lots of film users. If you scroll down a little, there is this great photo essay from Bruce Gilden called Fashion Magazine; not really so much fashion as a tongue-in-cheek view from an interesting photographer from Brooklyn.
It is sometimes stated that the camera points both ways. In other words, your personality can probably come across in your images, when they are successful, depending upon how you define that. While that is not strictly defining street photography, I think it is important to remember that in your approach to imaging; let the viewer get a look at you, not just your subject.
Gordon thanks for that site ... it is a great one, I did not know about it!
Dave in Vegas
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Your post forcefully reminded me of my own hang-ups and inabilities as a street photographer. Some months ago I was on a documentary shoot in Memphis, TN, in an extremely poor neighborhood, your typical American inner city. While walking through the neglect and destruction, I felt I was in India or Bangladesh. Some areas looked exactly like what you would see in a city like Bombay or Calcutta.
Originally Posted by MARTIE
Shooting was extremely difficult and close to impossible. Any attempt to take pictures would inevitably lead to unwanted attention from the neighborhood drug dealers who populated the street corners and alleys. I personally do not believe in "assaulting" people with a camera. Unfortunately, most of the subjects we approached were not willing to be photographed. I don't blame them.
The purpose of the trip and shoot was to collect images and video for a research/documentary project on sites of racial violence in TN and neighboring state Mississippi. It took a VERY long time to establish trust and to get people to pose and share their stories and memories.
Unfortunately, we did not have the time to establish that same level of rapport in Memphis. However, sometimes luck does shine a ray on you: a not too well put together guy approached us as we were packing up our gear, ready to leave. We struck up a conversation, he asked us about our resarch and project. He then gesticulated towards a house across the street, informing us that this was the house of a famous Memphis personality, and would we be interested in meeting the family? We were definitely interested. Politely we knocked on the door, expecting to meet some crack head and his three girlfriends, but were invited to an extremely tidy and clean apartment. The living room was full of memorabilia of the family and the musical legacy they had established in Memphis.
I wanted to take home an image that would summarize succinctly that legacy, so I asked the young man who was living in the house to go outside with me and have me shoot a picture of him holding up a framed photograph of his famous grandfather.
The image I shot, without any great artistic flair, does convey the strong, positive family ties that continue to thrive and survive despite the murder and mayhem.
So, again, rapport is what makes it possible to shoot complete strangers.
Thanks for the replies and especially I think to Ricardo who has perhaps hit one of the nails on the head with compassion.
Perhaps we all sometimes forget that were photographing 'real' people and that we should at least try to put the person before the image or before our own, all to often, misguided perceptions/preconceptions.
Can we avoid our images being too judgemental?
You can change your own attitude towards your photographic subject, and that's your own assignment and perhaps worth a challenge.
Originally Posted by MARTIE
But to change other peoples' multiple unexpected and unpredictable attitudes, I don't know how. Maybe you can show them how to by actually doing it so that they can follow.
I think the bottom line is not to just snap away from the scenes you enter with your camera, but communicate well with the people whom you photograph and create a sense of trust among them.
Who but a boy around his age would find so much joy in being swarmed by a flock of pigeons. You captured a real moment of human emotion, on the street. Nice.
"A certain amount of contempt for the material employed to express an idea is indispensable to the purest realization of this idea." Man Ray
I think you would like this recent post on 2point8, "The Phylums of Street Photography."
The author breaks them down broadly:
- The Juxtaposition
- The Moving Masses
- The Street Portrait
- The Perfect Peopled Moment
- The Triple Crown
Personally, I like to think of three broad divisions: "tough" street photography versus "classic" SP and newer SP. I associate "tough" SP (coined by Meyerowitz/Winograpnd) with its period of beatniks and rapidity. Classic is de Cordova and a lot of Doineau and HCB. Since then have been divergences into LF (Wall, Shore) or inessential photo (Tillmans) or mock SP (Nikki Lee).... though there's still some great classic-style work being done (e.g., Sylvia Plachy or Boris Mikhailov, albeit with a more po-mo, jaundiced eye)
I'll stick with the style I like, Daddy-oh. I've gotten comfortable with the idea that a lot of people can't dig the tilt or the clipped figure. It's their own limited bag.