What is street photography? a video and discussion

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
123
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
olli, thank you for that video. I just listened to it and will again. I caught a few things right away - the street as a stage...and the few seconds the photographer has to get it all together. Can't help but tie it into part of what you, Ray, have written above...about the technical side of using the camera as a tool. At least that's what I think you were talking about as you separated the craft from the art.

So much is sometimes semantics. To me a craftsman is an artist. I see the nuts and bolts - the f stops, the ISO, the EV compensation...the shutter speed as the technical side...but without those tools we couldn't capture that moment. Without the heart/art, however it can be at worst a sterile image. I'm venturing into a wider area here, because I think these things apply to photography as a whole, not just to street photography.
I guess what I was trying to say is that an artist has to learn the craft well before he or she can turn it into art. So i'd say that all artists must also be craftsmen, but not all craftsmen become artists. This is true of all sorts of photography, but street photography almost takes it to another level because everything is always moving and changing and part of the craft is actually the seeing and anticipating and not just the mechanical parts of getting the exposure and focus right, which you need in any type of photography. To use an analogy, any great musician must learn the craft of playing the instrument first and can only become a real artist once they know the instrument so well that they don't have to think about it any longer. That said, there's a real difference even in the craft part of playing music between playing classical music that's written out for you and playing improvisational jazz which requires constantly thinking and feeling on your feet and reacting as much to what others are doing as to what you're trying to do. I guess I see street photography as the improvisational jazz of photography. But I think the craft/art discussion works here because in a sense most of us who are relatively new to street photography are still very much learning to play our instruments and working on the craft and are not at the point where the heart/art part of the endeavor can take center stage. Folks like Don and others who have been doing it for a lifetime have the craft of street photography incorporated nearly into their DNA by now and so they can put all of their energy in to the art portion. Some of us may get there and lot of us may never get there and a lot of this is down to how much we love the process and how driven we are to do it and do it a LOT. But even if we don't, there's still a certain beauty to a high school jazz combo or jam rock band who just starts to really FEEL it for the first time, even if they never become John Coletrane or the Grateful Dead. And enjoying and growing from the process is a big part of the point, even if we never quite reach the "end product" we'd like to...

-Ray
 

Djarum

All-Pro
Jul 10, 2010
123
Huntsville, AL
Jason
All good comments.

In general, I don't do street photography. I do like looking at good photos of street photography, but I don't do it. Its like me and golf. I've tried it a few times, and I don't care to do it. But I will watch it on TV and do enjoy it on tv.

I think the reason why I don't do street photography is a few reasons. It seems to me that even when I try to be inconspicuous, people will always want to look at the camera. This is not the type of shot I want to get, generally. Second, it takes a certain kind of investment from the photographer to make good street photos, and I know I can't nor do I really want to make that kind of investment. For one thing, it is not in my nature to really care what other people are doing. This is not just about photography mind you, but just my general personality. To some degree, this is why I like street photos. It takes the mundane everyday activities of those on the street look relevant. Logically my mind things most of what goes on the street is just ritual of everyday life. On the other side of the coin, emotionally, it is what we do everyday that is important. Its not the big events in our lives. Its the small, while tedious and sometimes boring habits of everyday life that make up the journey. This is what I think good street photographers do well.

I wish I had the same sort of passion for street photography that some members, like Ray and Don, for my own photography that I enjoy doing.
 
Jul 7, 2010
33
For one thing, it is not in my nature to really care what other people are doing. This is not just about photography mind you, but just my general personality. To some degree, this is why I like street photos. It takes the mundane everyday activities of those on the street look relevant. Logically my mind things most of what goes on the street is just ritual of everyday life. On the other side of the coin, emotionally, it is what we do everyday that is important. Its not the big events in our lives. Its the small, while tedious and sometimes boring habits of everyday life that make up the journey. This is what I think good street photographers do well.
That is so well said, Djarum. What attracts me in street photography is how it emotionally affects me. It is not just finding interesting subjects and bringing content and form together. It is more an emotional quest where I see, feel, and breath the moment. It was and still is very challenging for me to make the street feel like my comfort zone. That process, learning people behavior, and coping with my fear and excitement is what feels incredible to me. What makes it hard is to balance the excitement and flow and become realistic about your own editing.
 

Country Parson

Top Veteran
Apr 5, 2011
103
North Carolina
Dan
Streetshooter, I am having trouble following your thoughts here. Are you making some contrast between "street' and "candid"? Must street shooters be specialists? What does truly "deliver" when it comes to street shooting? This has to be very subjective. For example, when I look through that big book Street Shooting Now I connect with some photos and others leave me cold and wondering why the editors included them.
 

Luckypenguin

Hall of Famer
Dec 24, 2010
124
Brisbane, Australia
Nic
From my perspective I have to respectfully disagree with the idea that street photography HAS to be candid. A shot that is not entirely candid doesn't mean that it is staged or contrived. A photographer and his/her camera is just as much a part of the "street" as anything, and sometimes a glance towards the camera can make rather than break the shot. The photographer can choose to interact with the scene to a degree if they see fit. The term candid also tends to paint street photography in a bad light, and conjures up images of men in trenchcoats with telephoto lenses.
 
On the principle of not annoying Google by double posting I won't repeat my random blog comments on street photography and urban photography but for anyone interested you will find them right here.
Olli, I am surprised about any concern for Google. Google make money out of you, the advertising they push on you, and the contrived sort order of hits based on who pays for priority listing. Google is a commercial organisation and their search engines can cope with multiple listings (e.g. they don't normally display multiple identical listings and this is done automatically).

Please include the content you want in the thread without worrying about Google. It is hard to discuss content on another site and makes it awkward for anyone that would like to put your comments and feelings into the context of this thread.
 
I am not really clear on why there is a negative connotation with the term candid.

According to Merriam-Webster...

can•did/ˈkandid/Adjective


1. Truthful and straightforward; frank.

2. (of a photograph of a person) Taken informally, esp. without the subject's knowledge.
Not all candid photos are taken without the subject's notice and maybe some consider that when a photo taken without someone's notice is voyeurism. No it isn't as intent and context are important.

A wedding photographer will take formal photographs and candids. Certainly in this context, candids are normally done with the subject’s notice. Even when not, there is normally only positive intent behind taking the images.

I believe there is a difference between a streetscape and ‘street photography’. There is also a difference between a posed shot in a street scene and street photography.
 

Amin Sabet

Administrator Emeritus
Jul 3, 2010
124
Please include the content you want in the thread without worrying about Google.
Olli is acceding to my request as the owner of this site. Google is responsible for > 50% of the visits to a site like this, and far greater than that percentage of the new visitors. Duplicate content is a good way to lower your site value from Google's perspective, which means less visitors. In a worst case scenario, they remove you from the search index for attempting to game their search algorithm. If we are deindexed by Google, I shut the doors and everyone goes home.
 
Thanks Amin, but I don't think people's need to communicate should be controlled by Google or the fear of Google's perceived actions. Fair enough not to have exact duplicates of content copied over however it is not difficult to rewrite content or selectively quote key points with reference back to the original source.
 

olli

Super Moderator Emeritus
Sep 28, 2010
123
Sofia, Bulgaria
olli
Not difficult but time consuming:). Maybe I'll attempt a summary later for what it's worth. Besides, my post is really not about street photography but goes off at a tangent.
 
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