Street Photography. Why I’m more pizza than foie gras

I recently read an interesting article on 2point8 called Street Photography’s Killing Me Softly, With Its Song (Part 1) in it the author raises some interesting points

Naysayers complain about its inelegant description of plain-as-day facts; its telegraphed jokes, funny as a laugh track; its ethical pegleg – the conceit of hobbling around taking pictures of unsuspecting strangers; the obviousness of its attraction to both the ridiculous and sublime; its phyla, even. All in all, they knock the inevitable everything of what it means to make, look, and present a photograph of public life as we see it.

As viewers become more and more visually savvy, the hits of street photography’s past begin to sound more like the soft-rock rotation on AM radio. You know the words and can sing along, but the signal’s crowded out, and hell, haven’t you heard it a million times before?

I beg to differ. The photographer he mentions, David Yee, is without doubt talented and the shot he cites is technically excellent but for me lacks the spontaneity, emotion and God forbid, the humour of what I love about Street Photography.

Maybe I’m a Burger King man in a Filet Mingon world but I doubt it.  For me the things that make Street Photography compelling are those frozen moments when the juxtaposition of the ordinary become comical, moving or just down right interesting. A couple of my own recent shots say more (or less) about how I see the world. This isn’t me showing off or saying I’m a good photographer but it’s about what I want to say.  I am not a documentary social historian.  I don’t seek to record London in 2009 but rather to show the hidden, the missed and the charming.  I want people to consume my shots on the go not in an art gallery.  I want them to view the images and walk away smiling not pondering the meaning.  The shots are what they are and if there are some that say something about the city I live in so much the better. I’m not here to preach but just to observe.  There are now thousands of Street Photographers (note the initial capital letters) who don’t even know the term. The difference between those of us who toil at the coal face is that we want to keep doing it better rather than having just got a lucky, funny shot. 

So in the words of that famous Apple ad “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. …..” And in case you’re wondering I am very much the anti-Apple fan boy but own an iPhone. Contrarian or what. 

So let’s not get too pretentious. What we do will either speak for itself or not.  We don’t need to create high Street Photography and low Street Photography. Art or popularism. 

Just Street

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