2.1 Titans on the Street

This reading is a brief history of street photography documented by looking at three of the true pioneers of our art.  While in NO way trying to compare my work to that of these three masters, I will use examples of my own street work to illustrate my understanding of the concept/shooting style of these titans.

Between 1897 and 1927 Eugene Atget used a large format camera and focused on architecture and the empty streets.

cityview

Woodinville WA, November 2013

In the early 1900’s Jacques-Henri Lartigue made his images of anything he found interesting, primarily eccentrically dressed women.

women

Pike Place Market. July 2014

Henri Cartier-Bresson is clearly the most recognizable street photographer ever, and is credited with inventing photojournalism.

DB-2014-07-27-

Westlake Plaza, February 2014

Assignment: Think about how society will change in the next 100 years, and how street photography can be used as an attempt to document it as well.

Two visual changes in society that are unavoidable would be fashion and technology.  While they do cycle back, the clothes we see on the street today will look extremely “of the period” when our photos are viewed in 100 years.

DB-2014-06-19-000013

Bothell WA, June 2014

With wearable technology nearly upon us already, the days of everyone on the street staring at their smartphone is bound to end soon.

DB-2014-06-25-010009

Downtown Seattle, May 2014

1.4 Too Big A Bite

922556739

North Aurora-Seattle,  May 2014

In a blog posting titled “Undefining Street Photography” by Nick Turpin he makes the case “…that ‘Street Photography’ is just ‘Photography’ in its simplest form, it is the medium itself, it is actually all the other forms of photography that need defining, landscape, fashion, portrait, reportage, art, advertising….these are all complicating additions to the medium of Photography, they are the areas that need to be defined, ring fenced and partitioned out of the medium of ‘Street Photography’.”

Ummmm that’s a little too egotistic for my taste.  He justifies his point by saying the first photograph a child takes is a reaction to what is in front of her so is therefore street photography.  But if that photo was of the front yard wouldn’t it be landscape?  And if it was of mom wouldn’t they be starting out as a future Sears Portrait Studio employee?

The logic he applied does not rationally lead to his conclusion as the only possible definition.  Plus I have to say who cares – let’s just go shoot what we want and enjoy it.

1.3 Photochart


1.3 illustration

Seattle Center, October 2012

Nick Turpin created a visually beautiful and informational rich graphic showing what he described as the three poles of street photography –  Fine Art Photography, Photojournalism, and Street Photography.   Although I would never compare my photos to the work of Garry Winogrand or Joel Meyerowitz, it took me about half a second to place myself at the pole of Street Photography with them.

Turpin described that zone as “Preoccupation with the ‘moment’ and the ‘found’, generally collections of single unconnected images, largely small format for publication and web presentation, completely documentary tradition.”  Yeah, that’s pretty much what I do.  Now I just need to get better at it.

1.2 Four Out Of Five

In this reading for my “All the World’s a Stage” course Eric tackles a definition of street photography.  That guy is so brave he would show up at a meeting of the Pitchfork Society wearing straw underwear.

This is the same article I read several weeks ago and referenced in my very first post on the blog before I knew it was required reading.  I think he nails it when he comes up with five broad categories.   Looking through a few of my shots I’ll post images I feel illustrate the types he outlined.

Candid Street

candid street

Mercer Street, September 2013

Street Portraits
street portrait

Seattle Convention Center Park, June 2014

Still Life Street

still life street

Greenwood, August 2013

Urban Landscape

urban landscape

Seattle Center, September 2013

Socio-Documentary Street

socio-documentary street

Rock and Roll Marathon, June 2014

Now I realize I spend nearly all my time shooting four of these categories because it was difficult to find any images that illustrate the Bruce Davidson style of Socio-Documentary in my portfolio.  Something to add to my list to work on!

1.1 Convergence

DB-2014-06

Seattle Center, June 2014

A few weeks ago I read an article by Eric Kim about the value of slowing down when you look at a photo.  How we should spend the time to truly study it and think about how (and why) it was made, not do the typical one second pass.  So when I read the first article in this course by Howard Becker comparing photography and sociology it didn’t surprise me when the exercise that most stood out to me was his suggestion to spend two full minutes reading a photo, then work up to five.  To put that in context, imagine studying one image for the entire time it takes Queen to perform Bohemian Rhapsody.

While I sort of loose it on five, I’ve done the two minute read on several photos now and it’s pretty amazing what you learn.  I highly recommend the exercise if you’re interested in making better photos.

Proof of Humanity

Bag Lady

Mill Creek, July 2014

Since I first got interested in street photography I’ve admired the work of Eric Kim.  He’s a master at seeing and recording life around us that takes place in public.  And he is a thoughtful writer as well.  In one of his articles he gave the best definition I’ve ever heard for what is street photography – most any photograph that gives “proof of humanity”.

In his generosity of spirit he has created a course titled “All the World’s a Stage: Introduction to Street Photography”.  I intend to use this blog as a place to record my progress through the course.  I’m confident I’m going to learn a lot in the coming weeks.  Wish me luck!