living on the streets

In the last post, I began by pondering, “how do you define street photography?”
Since then, I’ve considered at length but have only been left with more questions.

I considered whether street photography is an evolution of documentary, but I don’t think it is. Not all street is documentary, and not all documentary is street, they converge and diverge like overlapping oscillatory wave patterns. If I were to photograph people at a demonstration marching through the city, I’d like to think I was making documentary photographs, but if I turned my back on the marchers to find images of people sitting in a pavement café watching the goings-on, then perhaps I might be indulging in some street photography.

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hitting the streets

Street photography… It’s a genre that’s become very popular. Search “street photography” in youTube and you’ll be spoilt for choice. The good, the bad and the ugly of street photography will be paraded before you to delight and disgust in equal measure, but it’s a genre that I confess to being a little perplexed by. Now, forgive me for lapsing into a middle-aged film-shooter stereotype, but I grew up with film photography. I’ve probably devoured thousands of magazine articles over the years, and have been fascinated by the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Tony Ray-Jones, Elliott Erwitt, Fan Ho, and many others… and I don’t think I ever heard any of them referred to as a “street photographer”. Reportage, yes… Documentary, yes… but street, no… not ever. At least, not until recently, when they may have been retrospectively labelled thus.

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