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Photography DiscussionWhat Is Street Photography?

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davechinn
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Re: What Is Street Photography?

Postby davechinn » Mon Oct 09, 2017 6:56 pm

St3v3M wrote:I thought we'd try something a little different here and see if we can get a good discussion going.

What Is Street Photography?
- Wikipedia says: Street photography
- and here are 3 Common Misconceptions About Street Photography
- but what do you think?

What's your definition, or at least your opinion?
Do you have any images that are Street but defy the common definitions?
And why does it matter that we define this thing?

This is an open discussion where the only rule is respect. Enjoy! S-


This is a subject that can turn south/sourer at a moments notice, at least it has in the past in other forumes. So far, this has been a pleasant read with wonderful images to view, which adds to the discussion. However, I hope any comments I make doesn't change the turn of events, because my comments would only be my opinion as to how I define the category of what is street photography.

A quote from a Google search to start."Street photography, also sometimes called candid photography, is photography conducted for art or enquiry that features unmediated chance encounters and random incidents within public places".

My view is that street photography happens to be a misguided term that has such a wide base of opinions, what is and what's isn't. It does not, IMO, have to be candid, but I personally prefer candid over posed and have done both. Candid has more of natural expression when captured proper, no tongues hanging out, or unflattering expressions of the sort, I have captured those as well. A street, road, or alley is not a requirement, but a setting of the sort is helpful. No, a truck is a field is NOT street photography. People in the images will do wonders, if even on a beach, inside a public environment would be acceptable.

Street photography is a term used to describe .... what? I look in terms of the game of baseball for an example. Most know the game and rules. Then we have softball, same set of rules, just a different ball. I think the same applies to street photography, same set of rules just a different ball. Okay, maybe thats a poor example, but hopefully there's some understanding.

Sometimes I will engage with my subject after a candid shot, while at other times I'll get my preferred shot and move on. No particular reason, just the way it seems to be. Each situation is different, especially when I come across a subject that's what I consider out of the norm, which is one of my main goals for being on the streets to begin with.

Here is a link that may be helpful. https://digital-photography-school.com/ ... otography/ Although, this is just a guide, I don't agree with everything because it's just another opinion.

The images I'm posting is what I consider out of the norm photos. I'm always on the lookout for something .... different !!!

So bottom line is, nothing is set in stone, or is it?
Dave
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St3v3M
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Re: What Is Street Photography?

Postby St3v3M » Tue Oct 10, 2017 4:04 am

Matt Quinn wrote:Boy, Steve, you unleashed a flood. I like a combination of all definitions expressed here. That's a dodge, I know, but I want to avoid the Humpty Dumpty moment:

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that's all.” ("Through the Looking Glass," Lewis Carroll)
...
Matt

I love Lewis Carroll's work and everything it stood for. As to the rest, it's an old argument that is important to some, but what I like most about it is hearing what others think, and why, the same way I like trying to see photographs through others eyes. I didn't mean this to come across this way, but I wonder if that's why we are drawn to Street, that it gives us the chance to see through the photographer's eye's to an intimate world we would otherwise never see. There's so much to consider! S-
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Re: What Is Street Photography?

Postby St3v3M » Thu Oct 12, 2017 1:46 am

Off Topic
It's a little off topic but I thought it would be interesting to add. S-
- To be or not to be a Street Photographer
"Take photographs, leave footprints, steal hearts"

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Graham Smith
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Re: What Is Street Photography?

Postby Graham Smith » Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:38 pm

St3v3M wrote:
Off Topic
It's a little off topic but I thought it would be interesting to add. S-
- To be or not to be a Street Photographer


I fundamentally agree with all of them apart from "You will be part of a very cool community" Being cool is something that belongs to those that think more of themselves than of others 8):

Also 6 – "You won’t waste too much time in post processing" That ain't necessarily so :rofl:
Graham

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Charles Haacker
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Re: What Is Street Photography?

Postby Charles Haacker » Thu Oct 12, 2017 4:05 pm

I’ve been wanting to get back in here but I've had distractions. This is just one terrific discussion!

DUCK, you replied to my questioning the need for any definition by writing:
Definitions are important in society in general, not just in defining art terms. It clarifies ideas and focuses discussions so the conversants are clear as to what is being discussed.

Then you gave several excellent examples. You concluded by saying:
Because we understand photographic language (hopefully) we know there is a big difference between a portrait, a corporate headshot and an environmental portrait. Those distinctions need to be crystal clear in order to provide the customer with the exact product they need. Imagine if the customer told you, "just take my picture in a variety of ways. I'll tell you which one it is when I see it."

But all your examples assume a photographer/client relationship. I still question the necessity for a stricter definition of “street” because to my knowledge no one gets commissioned to do “street.” It is an art form, a unique art form that I doubt can be commissioned, excluding photojournalism which I think may be a close relative of “street.” Photojournalists are pretty much unconstrained as to what they may shoot and publish of people in public. If you are in a newsworthy shot you are not even asked for a model release. Which reminds me; on some stock sites it seems to me that they will reject "street" shots lacking model releases. If that's true then it strikes me that street really can not be a moneymaker if you can't even sell it as stock.

Graham said:
I don't think that street photography can ever be strictly defined, nor should it be. [...]
If you produce a picture and call it "street" be prepared for others to say that it isn't street. It's the nature of the beast that is "street".

So if one of the best street photographers I've ever seen can't define it, is it indefinable? I think it might well be.

There have been many wonderful pictures posted as examples of (maybe) street (or not). By my own I-know-it-when-I-see-it definition I consider that Ernst’s initial ferry shot is not “street.” Ernst doesn’t think so either. But if it isn’t “street,” what is it? I’m inclined to pigeonhole it as “candid,” but what do I mean by that? I dud-doh. I think the loosest definition of "candid" is simply "not posed." But "street" photographers asking permission of a subject will very often get a pose struck, and 'snap' they've got it. So! What exactly is that? If by definition it's even slightly posed it's no longer "candid?" Yes? But it's on a public street... (?) It's posed so it's not candid, but it's only very loosely "posed," one of those cocked-hip-hand-behind-the-head-grin things. So what is it? More to the point, do we really have to define it?

Minnie’s first two shots on page 1 I think are street. The shot of the Sousaphone isn’t. Or is it? But that's why I continue to wonder if there can ever be a "definition" of "street, or if it's necessary or even desirable.

On page 2 Duck’s awesome shot of the Repent sign is, I believe, quintessential Street! The pictures I put up I have already categorized as Candids, definitely not street, even had they all been shot on an actual street. My subjects were not aware of me because I was just quietly circulating with my camera completely silenced (lurves me mirrorless). I was in among them rather than using long focal lengths except for a few picked-off portraits. I guess I was behaving like a good street photographer, there, but not there. Unobtrusive.

I am a physical coward. I can work this way only in situations where it's unlikely that someone will want to feed me my camera, although in many years of shooting quiet candids at wedding receptions I can twice recall being threatened by a guest who was very offended at being photographed! Really! It happens!

Piet’s picture of an arcade on a boardwalk is, in my view, absolutely street. Or maybe boardwalk.

Ernst shows that Fan Ho is indeed a Master of Street.

I showed Margaret Bourke-White’s hugely ironic 1937 picture of people lining up for relief, but it was made on assignment for LIFE. Is it street? Or not? (I think it is.)

Minnie shows three more. The first, of two Amish girls on bicycles, I consider is not “street” even though it’s on a road. But the last two I think ARE “street.”

Graham’s next two examples are, so far as I am concerned, Quintessentially Street, especially the first of the two young women very fixedly looking at a (map?) on a tablet. Graham I consider also a Master of Street.

Matt Quinn shows an amazingly ironic shot of a pile of literal garbage outside a McDonald’s with his breakfast sandwich in the foreground! (Did'ja lose yer appetite? I might have!) Is it street? I think maybe. Of his six shots I think four may be street, including the mannikins.

Dave Chinn’s three shots are, in my opinion, absolutely Street! And extremely good, but would anyone expect less? It’s Dave.

So I've yammered on and gotten nowhere. Maybe Street is indefinable because it is so very many things.

I contend that I "never" do street, but do I? This is a shot made at the start of a charity run in a drenching downpour. It was made on assignment. Is it street?
ImageSplopSplopSplopSplopSplop by Charles Haacker, on Flickr

This one I think is pretty solidly "candid." It was made indoors at a Holocaust memorial. The gentleman is a survivor, with generations of his family that would not exist had he been gassed. What if the event had been held outdoors? Even on an actual street? Would it be Street (I don't think so).
ImageSurvivor With His Family by Charles Haacker, on Flickr

This one is at a farmers' market on an actual street. These young people are, I guess, buskers. So is this street? There seems to be some ambiguity whether buskers are "street" or not...
ImageAndi Dancer at the Farmers' Market by Charles Haacker, on Flickr
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Re: What Is Street Photography?

Postby Duck » Thu Oct 12, 2017 4:54 pm

Charles Haacker wrote:[...]
But all your examples assume a photographer/client relationship.

True enough, but take those same examples and make it between two chefs, or two scientists, or two... you get the point. ;)
For a more 'real world' example just think about your conversations with an amateur photographer as you try to explain reciprocity or inverse square law. :lol:
On a side note; back in 2014 I wrote an article called "Your Photographic Language" that touches on a few points made here as well as some others.

Charles Haacker wrote:[...] Which reminds me; on some stock sites it seems to me that they will reject "street" shots lacking model releases. If that's true then it strikes me that street really can not be a moneymaker if you can't even sell it as stock.

That is true, a model release would be needed for any image, regardless of descriptives, that feature a person and is to be used for commercial gain. The only exception is for editorial usage, and there the rules are a little stricter.

Charles Haacker wrote:[...] So if one of the best street photographers I've ever seen can't define it, is it indefinable? I think it might well be.

While the term may not be fully definable, it is very much identifiable. :cheers:
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Re: What Is Street Photography?

Postby Charles Haacker » Thu Oct 12, 2017 5:07 pm

Duck wrote:
Charles Haacker wrote:[...] So if one of the best street photographers I've ever seen can't define it, is it indefinable? I think it might well be.

While the term may not be fully definable, it is very much identifiable. :cheers:

Ah! Identifiable! I can completely agree with that based on my I-knows-it-when-I-sees-it mantra. I suppose a client could tell a photographer that she wants "street-like" images for a campaign. I think any photographer who's been around would know precisely the kind of images she was looking for. That would be a definite definition, unambiguous. I would know what she wanted and be able to deliver it. :thumbup: :cheers:
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(I prefer to present pictures in albums because I can put them in specific order.)

All the great photographers use cameras! No, really. :|


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