Urban photography by Brad Evans

Yes, but is it “street photography?”

October 15th, 2013 Posted in Uncategorized

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The availability of inexpensive point-n-shoot cameras and smartphones, along with a wide array of dSLRs, has made photography available to almost everyone who wants to shoot on the street. That’s clearly a good thing, producing a wide spectrum of photos from a large number of photographers. Of that large range, I find the “endpoints” most interesting to think about.

There are many shooters who treat sp as a “thing” in itself, a job of sorts, where it is strongly tied and promoted in social media. Sometimes, it’s so strong it feels like the genre has been hyped into a television reality show. There are workshops for anything you can imagine, endless lists of “12 things you need to know about {insert whatever it is you should know},” must-read steps how to get your work noticed, videos of street shooters “living the life” like they’re Hunter Thompson, and so on. Along with that come the pronouncements (to others, of course) of what sp is and isn’t. There are even Manifestos for others to follow when they’re out on the street snapping.

From a distance, I’ve been noticing how that develops into an unhealthy competition with other photographers, some ending up on what might be described as the street photography treadmill of drama. A blogger and fellow street shooter recently spoke about feelings of envy after seeing what other shooters were up to with their photography, and then feeling theirs was not as interesting in comparison. I wonder if people on that trajectory are ever really happy, needing periodic approval from peers and competitors while navigating various commotions along the way, and never quite feeling like they’ve made it.

And then there are shooters who enjoy anonymity, quietly going about their business, learning from and soaking in the rhythm, energy, and dynamics of the street. No fuss, no drama. Vivian Maier is one who comes to mind. I suspect photographers who approach street shooting in that manner are the happiest, not feeling envious or in any sort of competition with others. Indeed, some of the best photography I see out there comes from shooters who are not known, nor want to be.  Here’s a big tip-o-my-hat to them!

So, about that photo up at the top being “street photography” or not… Of course it is! As I’ve said before, my camera, my pixels, I’ll shoot what jazzes me on the street. Your camera, your pixels/emulsion, you shoot what excites and drives you. In the end it’s all good!

  1. 2 Responses to “Yes, but is it “street photography?””

  2. By EmbraceTheBLUR on Oct 28, 2013

    Excellent perspective!

  3. By MajortomUK on Oct 28, 2013

    I could not agree more.

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