Street Photography

Well I had to start with this as this is where I am now.

What is Street Photography?

Well it depends how you look at it. A description can be found here. This is the Wikipedia view, and most people point to this. However, why are we restricted by by limitations. Do people who shoot what they call “Pure” Street Photography, think that people not sticking to strict guidelines or rules are sullying their art form?

If we look at the words “Street Photography” that would imply that it should be a photograph of the street, or taken in the street. However the Wikipedia description doesn’t even say that. It is after all, in my view just a name that is given for a Genre, to distinguish it from other Genres, such as Landscape, Portrait etc., even though it can encompass both of those.

I have read and also seen in peoples profiles of how they see “Street Photography”. That is fine as we are all different and that is what makes life so good.

Let’s have a look at the word “Motorbike”. Basically this means a bicycle with a motor attached. You talk to someone who is into that scene and they will tell you that there are MotoX, Racing, Touring, and all manner of different machines. You point to a moped and they will tell you “that’s not a motorbike it’s a moped”, but to the average person in the street it’s a motorbike as it is a bicycle with an engine.

I suppose what I am trying to say that when someone asks what type of photography do you like to shoot, saying Street Photography is the nearest Genre.

Colour or Black & White?

You hear some people say that all Street Photography should be Black & White. Why do we see in Black & White? I thought the idea was to show how life is, or does it just go back to when it all started when everyone shot in black & white and there was no colour. I would think it is just for creative purposes and the idea you want to get across. Personally I do like black & white but if the reason I take a shot is because I see a pretty girl with blue hair, why would I want to convert it to black & white, the blue hair was why I took the shot.

The photos below show this.

hair colour

 1. Colour

hair desat

 2. Desaturated

hair mono

 3. Black & White

Which do you prefer?
Personally, although the reason I took the shot because of the girls’ blue hair, which photo #1 shows well, after editing, I actually prefer #3 as I like the stripes. It’s all down to personal preference, and what you wish to emphasise.

Eye Contact or No Eye Contact? That is the question.

Another thing that is said is that “there should be no eye contact”, whereas others say “eye contact is essential”. I think it all depends on the shot. If you look at the following shots, would they be as good if there was or wasn’t eye contact.

Fur Coat

The shot above is showing a woman smoking whilst sitting on a bench in Cardiff. She looks like she may be waiting for someone. If she was looking at the camera it would take away the observation feel of the shot.

The Beautiful Girl in Black

The shot above is showing how the girl is in a world of her own, gazing upwards along the street. If she was looking at the camera I would have lost the image I was seeing.

The Shot

This photo shows how eye contact makes a shot. Would this have had the same effect if the woman was looking elsewhere. Some may say yes but to me, her staring at the camera makes the shot.

Posed or Natural

As I understand it some people pose Street shots to get the effect they want. Others frown on this and think they should all be natural, but isn’t the nature of photography to be creative in one form or another. I prefer to shoot candidly, but if someone turns toward the camera and starts posing or “playing up” for it, then I’m not going to stop shooting. You can get some great shots this way.

Here is a good example. I was taking a shot of the guy holding the board for free coffee when the couple walked in front of him, looking at the camera and smiling. Should I have ignored them? I don’t think so. I think it made a great image of them stealing the guys thunder, but him staying in the shot, showing his reaction.
They Pinched My Shot

So to sum up what I think “Street Photography” is, it is what you want it to be. Quite often people take it much too seriously, and need to inject some humour. I find that most people start off with one form then progress. I have recently started editing by toning down the colours but not going to straight Black & White, with mixed results. I wonder what will be next?

No doubt I will return to this subject in the future, and remember this is my view, and what is great, is we can all have our own.

All the shots were taken with my Nikon D7000

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