Each to his own

Posted on Oct 20, 2009 - 28 comments -

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Not once we've talked about street photography.
I truly believe that it's the most interesting and satisfying niche in the world of photography - I'm not saying that to start that old debate all over again, I'm just stating my own personal opinion.

Looking at all the nature/scenery shots I keep wondering how many other photographers have the exactly same 'super-duper-colorful-macro' or how many others have the almost exact same 'self-posing-processing-ala-Polaroid' photos.

I judge a good photo by the probability that another photographer will take a similar one. A fleeing moment on the street, is not reproducible. Never. It's unique.

To a bit different but similar topic - Wanted to share with you list of photoblogs/galleries that are street photography related and I find them inspiring.

10 Street Photography blogs and galleries you probably weren't familiar with -

Davide Michaels
Felix Lupa
Elaine Vallet
Nils Jorgensen
Markus Hartel (@hrtl)
Julia Komissarof
Alex Glickman
Tommie Lehane (@EyeBlinks)
John Goldsmith (@waxypoe)
Robert M Johnson (@robertmjohnson)

There has been 28 Responses to 'Each to his own' so far

  1. TIM TOPPLE says:

    I must add http://www.mattstuart.com/ to your list - He is really rather brilliant.
    And I do agree with your post, as it's the best street photography that I aspire to and which makes me smile/envious/inspired. But there is room for creativity and unique shots in other genres too, and it's a matter of taste. And it depends on the viewing location - a lot of street work i may admire, but not want on my wall, where i may be looking for colour/composition over all else.

  2. JamesD says:

    I love your definition of a great photograph, that's a good mantra for photographers to live by when taking photographs.

    The problem I have with street photography is that I get the impression everybody who picks up a camera feels that they can do it. Just aim the camera at a load of people waiting for a bus/people on a busy street/some pigeons at a wonky angle and hey presto they're a street photographer. When it is done well it is a great thing to witness, when anyone with a Flickr account starts taking thousands of shots into the sun on a busy street in black and white then it gets very boring very quickly. Variety and composition are essential to great street photography for me, otherwise I might as well go out onto any street and stare at the floor.

  3. a.h.lex says:

    what is street-photography? i don't think that this is only shot a unique moment of life other and/or my own. in my opinion street phtography is more then this.
    but street photography is for ilan this unique moment, which isn't reproducable. Right! But there have not to be humans on photos for a unique scenery.
    Alright, in my opinion this photo shows us to much of detailed faces on a street. yes this makes the moment, but the humans have rights. when i would shot such a photo, i will feel that i am a paparazzi. and that's not my ambition.

  4. Simon Hucko says:

    i've seen some stunning landscapes in my time, but i would have to agree that street photography lends itself to much more engaging photos. let's face it, people are most interested in other people, and a sure way to elevate your photography is to include human subjects.

    i think the real magic of street photography is when you can take an ordinary person doing a mundane activity (walking on the sidewalk, for example) and elevate it to a statement about humanity that touches the viewer in some way and stirs memories and emotions.

    anyone can buy a plane ticket to some exotic location and return with photos that will make people go "wow!" very few people can walk down the street in their home town in the middle of the day and come back with photos that make people go "wow!" that, to me, is the sign of a great street photographer

  5. CraigM says:

    It might surprise you that I agree, as my blog and therefore my photographic interests are wide and varied. It is however the street shots that give me most satisfaction, seeing that moment and managing to capture it is truly exciting to me, gives me that "yes" factor when I've got it right.

    I do try to be unique with other subjects too though, a different angle/POV & pp. I'm not sure that the general public "get" street photography on the whole, I speak from the reactions I get in person and by the comments on my blog when I process/post such an image. This may go some way to explain why I shoot many but rarely post them.

    A thought provoking post as always Ilan! I like the image too, not least of all because I'm a marching band musician ;)

  6. Liang says:

    Just lovely street shot here. i love the patterns and colors here!

  7. Ry says:

    I love street photography. I'm a rather eclectic photographer myself but I do tend to get more satisfaction out of a well shot street scene. Those captured moments are truly unique and usually the ones that pull the most emotion out of me upon viewing.

    I gotta say though, even though I really do get bored with landscape photography after awhile, I'm doubly impressed with a truly unique nature shot. Particularly if it's a place I've been and it feels like somewhere I've never seen before.

    Great post, great capture!

  8. Jeroen Berkenbosch says:

    Thanks for those links Ilan. And for those new twitter buddies ;) And for the wonderful photo of course, but that pretty much goes without saying.

    By the way, I've said it before, but I'm really liking your new blog theme. Well done!

  9. Bim says:

    Well said Sir Bresler. Cheers for the links. Will check them out. I love how the lady is holding on to her bag very tightly as if she is worried about someone mugging her. haha.

    Great shot.

  10. Alex says:

    Como me gusta escuchar el ritmo de la musica de estos tambores, genial.

  11. Waxy says:

    Thanks, Ilan, for adding me to the list!

  12. bluechameleon says:

    This is an excellent shot Ilan! The way she 'marches' in step, holding her bag like a drum, her face and gait in unison.

    The thing I love about street photography (besides all you have mentioned) is the fact that you need to pay such close attention. Not to just what is around you, but to also be several steps ahead of what is about to happen. That alone is good training for the eye and senses.

    Cool that you have included John Goldmsith (Waxy) to this list...he's a local guy and we all love him :)

  13. Ken says:

    Ilan, a great urban shot and interesting detail and color to absorb. I tend to shy away from street photography because I feel it is closely related to your privacy topic and I do not want to embarrass anyone or exploit a person's hardships. That is why out of all my posted images I have only about 10-15 people shots. Living in Chicago, I could take images of homeless people everyday, but I chose to do so, only very rarely. If I do, there is another element to the image to illustrate a point besides just the fact that a person is down on their luck. Don't get me wrong. I find street photos very unique and when a person can do it right, I am impressed. And I know there is more to street photos than the one category I mentioned. Great conversation starter!

  14. b.c.richter says:

    I disagree completely with what a.h.lex says above. A paparazzo is someone who intrudes into (more or less famous) people's private lifes, trying to capture them in compromising circumstances. That's not what the street photographer does. He works in public. Usually he doesn't have a nasty attitude and will not try to ridicule or exploit people. Rather, he captures and documents life.

    But there's a tendency in law-making these days (particularly in Germany and the UK) that blurs the distinction between public and private, in the sense that everything concerning individuals is private per se.
    So, theoretically, in order to publish a picture like the one above in Germany today, you would have to make sure you have the written consent of each and every person on the photo. Or else you might face a liability notice and you will (at least) have to pay a costly fee to the lawyer who issues the notice. (Indeed, issuing liability letters has become a business in itself for quite a few lawyers in this country.)

    But whereas you are not allowed to simply take pictures of people in the street and publish them, surveillance cameras abound. In the UK, every couple of seconds some surveillance camera will invariably take a snapshot of you in secret. No written consent necessary. What's worse: not all of these cameras were set up by the police. Rather, many surveillance cameras are the property of private companies. They may take your picture and do whatever they want with it. But any ordinary photographer in a street arouses suspicion when he starts taking pictures? An acquaintance of mine, a photographer himself, recently posted some pictures he had taken of people in the street to his web site, adding (and begging) that if somebody recognizes themselves on those photos to please not sue him. That's not normal, to say the least.

    Probably, and sadly, there are quite a number of photographers who already have adopted a stance similar to the one a.h.lex evinces here. They have acquiesced to impose some sort of restraint, if not self-censorship, on themselves and will not and never take photographs in the streets. Instead, they do landscapes, macro shots of insects or flowers, they shoot architecture (but beware if there's a famous building — photographing it from the upper floor of an adjoining building may equally be, yes, a crime in Germany) or empty streets at night. That may be fine. But if everyone does it, it gets boring. To be sure, many of those pictures are "beautiful" and technically perfect, still, in terms of style and aesthetics, often, they owe much if not everything to promotional photography. Compared to what some of the greatest photographers did, it's superficial crap. But less and less people, it seems, are able to tell the difference between a "beautiful" picture and a truly outstanding photograph. So no wonder some people started questioning recently whether photography was actually already dead.

    However, some of the greatest photographers were — street photographers. Henri Cartier-Bresson, Garry Winogrand or Robert Frank to name but a few. Also, there were photographers who took pictures of people who would never have been able to give their written and informed consent to being photographed, like all those mentally disabled people Diane Arbus photographed, for instance. Yet, these pictures are the most dignified photographs you could think of. Plus they tell a story. They are about real life. They make you think. Or rejoice. Or feel sad. Or angry. Capturing these moments is what photography has always been all about.

    So keep going, Ilan. You're on the right track. :-)

  15. Jerome says:

    Street photography is my favourite type, because of this unpredictable and engaging element, although as the commenters pointed out, the original definition is a bit simple.
    I appreciate good landscape photography, but my standards are strict in that regard because it tends to repeat itself. Same could be said for street I supposed, there are some classic cliches, man sleeping on metro, people waiting for the bus etc.
    I've been hunting some good street blogs/sites, there's a few in the about section on my site if you want to take a look

  16. Richard Hollins says:

    Even though I don't do street photography I love to look at other people's work. The best of it captures moments that tell you about the subject and something more general about life.

  17. Jim says:

    Nice composition. It's almost as if the woman on the left has joined the parade...even if she does seem a bit detached from it. Nice work.

  18. xaviheredia says:

    "I judge a good photo by the probability that another photographer will take a similar one. A fleeing moment on the street, is not reproducible. Never. It's unique".

    Very interesting thought, and I agree, but I think that the mesure of similarity between two pictures must take into consideration not only the "theme", the motif, but also the way this motif has been captured and treated. In this sense, it is far more difficult to obtain a , lets say, a good macro shot of a dandelion, a different shot with artistic impact, than a good "street" shot of a unique every day life situation.

    Just to introiduce some polemic ;-).

    Best regards.


  19. Luca says:

    Bello scatto, hai colto un ottimo momento

  20. Andrei Barbu says:

    Great capture, beautiful scene! Very well done, good composition and framing! Excellent moment captured!

  21. Marcie says:

    I think the 'art' of all photography is to see and record something in a way that is not obvious at first glance. Street photography definitely does this..as does some nature and other photography. I'm definitely of the feeling that you've seen one beautiful sunset over the horizon..you've seen 'em all. But - to see and record each sunset differently is the 'art'.
    Love their purple uniforms...your point-of-view. Nice 'street' scene!!!

  22. Ivar says:

    Great street shot, nice colors and the person on the right fits right in with her purse. Nice

  23. atmocube.ru says:

    agree, genre picture - the most that on there foto-art. But nature is so beautiful! I can not give it up )

  24. navin harish says:

    Wow! I should also consider getting matching clothes for my camera

  25. Jon Rieley-Goddard (jonriego) says:

    Love the strong diagonal flow, with all eyes left,and nice framing from the buildings (and more strong diagonals). We're marching now.

  26. Sandy says:

    I like your view on street photography. I will definitely check out these other sites when I find the time.

  27. C. Wade says:

    I think part of the reason many consider street-style photography to be almost superior to other genres or subjects is that candid scenes of people in the daily urban environment are almost universally relatable. It's easier to see an image of a person or figure interacting naturally with his/her surroundings and perceive the implicit story and emotional content.

    Don't get me wrong- I shoot all types of photography, and in my opinion no type is inherently superior. Street is just universally experienced.

    Great list of photoblogs, Ilan. There's a lot of great content to pour over!

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