Sunday, 8 January 2012

What is 'street'?

Over on the Talk Photography forum someone defined street photography as being only about taking photographs 0f strangers on the street. I have to concur that is the way it is seen these days. The same poster kind of decried the 'decisive moment'.

If 'street' is only about photographing people on the street, and judging from the photographs a lot of would-be street shooters post on the interweb it is, what happened to composition or the capturing of a look or gesture? To me that is what photographing people anywhere is about - particularly when they are unaware of the camera's presence. A snapshot of a stranger is just that. A snapshot. Its being taken on a street doesn't magically elevate it to a higher status as an image.

I admire those photographers who can consistently find moments on the street and freeze them with a camera. It's a remarkable skill. To belittle their achievements is only showing up your own shortcomings. I take photographs of people in towns. Very few of them are anything more than snaps. Occasionally I grab a picture of a 'character', but in itself I don't find that sufficient. It's a lazy option. Making pictures is much more difficult.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm more interested in using a camera to make pictures than taking photographs. Which (like the rest of the above) I might have mentioned before.

As 2011 drew to a close it was time to sort through my archive and pick out my favourite pictures. As usual I found a couple that I hadn't thought much of at the time they were made and saw them afresh. Then I began the process of editing them down. I had intended to make a Blurb book from the best (for my own amusement), but after much consideration realised that there were some pictures that were good, but didn't fit alongside the bulk of the shots. There were two themes - people and places - so I split them into two groups. The people pictures are gathered in the book below. I've ordered myself a copy to see what the quality is like. Last year's effort I got printed on the standard paper, which was a bit thin. I'll be interested to see if the upgrade is worth the extra.

As I said, this is purely for my own amusement - to see how the pictures look as a collection. The virtual book gives an idea, but a hard copy is something else and the best way to judge your own work. Photographs are made to be printed and handled. I believe they are best collected in book form too.  Some of the pictures I wouldn't include in a broader selection, but I wanted to fill as many pages as I could for the money!

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