“Intrusive” Street Photography.

Tilman Paulin

Top Veteran
Nov 15, 2011
Vancouver B.C.
Tilman
The street photography images I find more interesting don't usually involve people. Several of you wander around town with your cameras, taking pics of things like unusual doors you stumble across, or an old van painted in a hundred different colors, or interesting juxtapositions of shadows, or a bicycle perched on the balcony of a tiny flat, or an old abandoned building in the middle of town. Most images of people strolling down sidewalks don't do much for me.
indeed... "traces" of people, or things created by people can tell a more interesting story about us (or spark some thoughts in our heads) than just snapshots of our exterior shells, startled by some guy jumping at us :)

Not putting down street photography in general - nor portrait photography of course... There's just some things that don't work for me and my sensibilities.
 
The street photography images I find more interesting don't usually involve people. Several of you wander around town with your cameras, taking pics of things like unusual doors you stumble across, or an old van painted in a hundred different colors, or interesting juxtapositions of shadows, or a bicycle perched on the balcony of a tiny flat, or an old abandoned building in the middle of town. Most images of people strolling down sidewalks don't do much for me.
What you're describing is really how I shot during our vacation to Boston last fall - not so much street as detail of the city, and it was very very enjoyable. I don't know what the artistic quality of the results may be, but I like the photos.

A lot of my street attempts are just people in environment... Definitely nothing dramatic enough to please the sadistic folks on Flickr's Hardcore Street group, and more than anything else my people shots are me working out technique and my comfort level, so that if I see truly good moments I won't be too clumsy or afraid to capture them. It doesn't help that I live far away from any decent urban environments with enough people to make for good people-street photographs.
 

Jonathan F/2

Veteran
Aug 21, 2011
Los Angeles, USA
I like all styles of street photography as long as there's genuine intent and belief in one's street style. Like a martial artist, one can't be the best unless they believe in their "fighting" style. I can't stand poser street photographers who don't live and breath their style while trying to peddle camera wrist straps or hipster film stock. I can appreciate street photography of all spectrums from the calculated witty and abstract; showcasing the dark human condition; being the observer from afar and last but not least, the "in your mama's face" street style of photography. I believe Tatsuo Suzuki is a genuine believer of his style and stands by it. I respect that and can understand there's a certain rush associated to his style of shooting. It's visceral and raw.

His IG profile is pretty good too!
 
The street photography images I find more interesting don't usually involve people. Several of you wander around town with your cameras, taking pics of things like unusual doors you stumble across, or an old van painted in a hundred different colors, or interesting juxtapositions of shadows, or a bicycle perched on the balcony of a tiny flat, or an old abandoned building in the middle of town.
What you describe, in my opinion, is city/townscape photography. Just as the landscape photographer also shoots closeups of trees and rocks, so too the cityscape photog shoots closeups of objects in those environments.
Most images of people strolling down sidewalks don't do much for me.
That is what I equate with street photography. The difference is the subject matter: people vs objects. I tried doing street photography once and found myself asking everyone permission. It was uncomfortable to me until I realized I don't even like looking at that kind of photography. Duh!
 

bartjeej

Hall of Famer
Nov 12, 2010
bart
I love the somewhat abstract and highly graphical street photography of Saul Leiter. It shows people going about their daily lives, it is visually appealing, and it is usually not intrusive. He often used longer focal lengths, but used them not for being sneaky, but for singling out the fleeting moments when the human subject and the environment made for a graphically appealing image.
 

olli

Super Moderator Emeritus
Sep 28, 2010
Sofia, Bulgaria
olli
There is something off putting about the in your face approach, but on the other hand you could argue that it's more honest. A lot of street photography is sneaky - using long lenses, shooting from the hip and such. The person being photographed may be no more willing than this guy's subjects to be photographed but just because they are not aware of it doesn't make it more acceptable. I agree with Tony that pictures of people strolling on sidewalks aren't that interesting but for me, because people are such an integral part of the urban environment, photos of that environment often benefit from some human presence. I've done a lot of what might be called street photography over the years, though I think of it more as urban photography, and I've never tried to shoot without being seen. Sometimes I am, sometimes not. Nor do I generally take pictures where people are the dominant subject but are part of the urban environment. To me this is both more interesting and more ethical.

A few examples:

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drd1135

Zen Snapshooter
Jul 13, 2011
Lexington, Virginia
Steve
The street photography images I find more interesting don't usually involve people. Several of you wander around town with your cameras, taking pics of things like unusual doors you stumble across, or an old van painted in a hundred different colors, or interesting juxtapositions of shadows, or a bicycle perched on the balcony of a tiny flat, or an old abandoned building in the middle of town. Most images of people strolling down sidewalks don't do much for me.
This is definitely the style I go for when I am in a city, although crowds or small gatherings are also in the mix.
 

ggweci

Veteran
Feb 2, 2013
Toronto, Canada
Craig
@olli Great description and examples of what I also enjoy about street photography. People “make” the image - their occupancy and actions within the frame really tell the story.

Also, street photography is enjoyable to view present time, but I feel we see its true value several years down the road when the lifestyle can be compared to what exists at that future moment.
 

emerson

Top Veteran
Oct 2, 2015
Maritime Canada
David
It seems to me the Golden Rule is a useful guide. I'm not about to subject anyone to a practice that I would find uncomfortable myself. Nor am I not sure that offensively intrusive photography practices result in superior images. Others may hold differing opinions, but those are mine.

In the end, I find recreational photography gratifying because it reveals the beauty in the world around us. I don't feel the need to create conflict between photographer and subject. There's enough conflict in the world as it is.

I can see how professional photojournalists might require a different approach, but I don't think that's the focus of debate around the video mentioned.
 
I've long felt that Fuji has kind of forgotten about real photographers in the pursuit of the trendy style of photography that Fuji fans seem to be so taken with. Hipster is a way to define it, but not the best way. This kind of reinforces that. Dropping Suzuki altogether as an ambassador speaks to not wanting any negative press at all to enter into Fuji's happy little moment, but might turn out to alienate more serious photographers.
 

emerson

Top Veteran
Oct 2, 2015
Maritime Canada
David
It seems to me that Fujifilm's marketing staff have been entranced by the idea of certain photographers as celebrities, with whom they can associate their products to draw attention in a social media universe. Characteristic of the rise of 'influencers' and 'brand ambassadors', I suppose.

This contrasts with the past practice of using photographers to show what new products can accomplish as instruments in the hands of someone with real talent. In short, when engineering accomplishments and new capabilities persuaded users that a product was worthwhile, not a celebrity endorsement. Fujifilm is hardly the only offender, or even the worst. [Looking - perhaps unfairly - at you, Leica Lenny Kravitz LE]

I can understand the commercial forces that they're responding to, but I agree with @agentlossing that this trend may eventually alienate the portion of the audience that are serious about using Fujifilm cameras to for their *own* purposes.

Unfortunately, it may also do a disservice to talented photographers who end up dismissed as mere flacks.
 
The real question is just how "PC" (I realize political correctness isn't what this really is, but it seems to resemble it with the "let's not let anyone get offended" attitude Fuji is displaying, aside from the fact that it all comes down to dollars and cents for them in this instance) the company wants to get, because I can think of other ambassadors that could be controversial. Valerie Jardin has been a Fuji ambassador for a long time and while she isn't confrontational, she is what I would call sneaky at times. Is that street photography technique next to come under fire? Where does it end?
 

drd1135

Zen Snapshooter
Jul 13, 2011
Lexington, Virginia
Steve
Can a modern corporation truly support art in its purest forms? You could make a painting or even a film camera. Digital cameras require modern manufacturing methods. I’m not sure the goals of art and commerce can ever completely coalesce. I don’t know the point of balance but it will be a trade off. Some group will be bothered by any decision Fuji makes.
 
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tonyturley

Hall of Famer
Nov 24, 2014
Scott Depot, WV, USA
Tony
I'm rather a fence rider on the issue. I've been out in public when someone was photographing from a respectable distance away, and I didn't care. I know I wouldn't appreciate it if someone ran up to me and shoved a camera in my face. However, Fuji knew this guy's style when they used his video to promote the X100V. They only seemed to pull the video and end their business arrangement with him after a gush of negative publicity. Either someone in marketing was really myopic and didn't foresee the situation, or this is Fuji hypocrisy. I have a friend who says it is often difficult to tell the difference between stupidity and maliciousness. This is sort of like that.
 

drd1135

Zen Snapshooter
Jul 13, 2011
Lexington, Virginia
Steve
I'm rather a fence rider on the issue. I've been out in public when someone was photographing from a respectable distance away, and I didn't care. I know I wouldn't appreciate it if someone ran up to me and shoved a camera in my face. However, Fuji knew this guy's style when they used his video to promote the X100V. They only seemed to pull the video and end their business arrangement with him after a gush of negative publicity. Either someone in marketing was really myopic and didn't foresee the situation, or this is Fuji hypocrisy. I have a friend who says it is often difficult to tell the difference between stupidity and maliciousness. This is sort of like that.
If I had to guess, I would put the blame on marketing. Of course, that division was created by the mother company and reflects its values. Does anyone know of a similar case with another company?
 

Jock Elliott

Hall of Famer
Jan 3, 2012
Troy, NY
My hero in all this is Henri Cartier-Bresson. I believe his goal was be as unobtrusive as possible while taking excellent photographs . . . the gray man, the one you don't even notice is taking photographs.

If the goal of the guy in the video is to "take pictures of people being themselves," he is failing miserably. He is getting pictures of people reacting to an intrusive photographer. I don't get it; not what I would do.

I've seen some documentaries on YouTube where street photogs, often equipped with Leicas and very wide lenses, seem to be on the hunt to discover how far they can invade the subject's personal space before provoking a reaction. It wouldn't surprise me to discover one of these photogs has arrived at urgent care with an immediate need for a proctologist.

Having said that, in the US, if you are in a public space, you are apparently fair game for being photographed.

This: Know Your Rights as a Photographer!

and this: https://www.cob.org/documents/mayor/eob/legal-rights-of-photographers.pdf

may prove useful.

Cheers, Jock
 

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