I don't get street photography. Please explain

Started May 3, 2013 | Discussions thread
americanclassic Junior Member • Posts: 49
Ethics of Street Photography?

I too, am a little baffled by street photography. Don't get me wrong--I think there are some great street photographers out there, and I understand its existence for journalistic purposes. Street photography can shock you, stir up emotions, etc., in ways that macros of flowers can't. Sometimes it's constructive/positive, other times not so much. Learning about others' lives through photographs is always fascinating; however, some tend to strip their subjects of humanity and go purely for shock value.

Bruce Gilden, 1976

A lot of what I see just seems purely exploitative, and intrusive of others' private space. Much of it also seems selfishly opportunistic--e.g. I was on campus a year ago, when a guy suffered cardiac arrest and required an ambulance. low and behold, some girl buzzes around like a vulture literally a few feet away, snapping pics of the poor guy. She was pretty much interfering with the EMTs. Just so she can get that neato semi-rare pic.

Some street photographers seem to take advantage of vulnerability around them; the subjects are usually human, and the intent is usually to capture the gloom and poverty of city life. Some stick their cameras in the faces of sobbing men, some humiliate homeless people by treating them like dogs and not people, etc. Yeah those shots provide shock value, but they're almost like cheap tricks; harass a sad homeless guy without even acknowledging them as fellow humans, and HDR the crap out of his wrinkled dirty face. Instant wow-factor.

I admire the photographers who treat their subjects with kindness and respect, but they are relatively rare on the streets. Maybe I'm just miffed because I've encountered some very rude street photographers lol. It's one thing shooting from an unobstructive distance and not acknowledging your subjects (for obvious reasons), but when you literally shove your camera in front of an impoverished old woman trying to cross the street, without so much as a smile or nod, it's rather dehumanizing. Just so you can get your neato HDR old-lady face. There's no shock-value, it's just obnoxious.

Basically: I dislike the process by which some street photographers acquire their images, and I consider certain methods unethical (or at the very least obnoxious). Instant shock-value pics just seem like a cheap way to exploit vulnerable people who do not wish to be exploited. However, when images invoke intense empathy rather than shock/disgust, I think it is justifiably purposeful.

by  Manfredi Caracausi; this says so much without resorting to cheap shock value.

by Nathan Legiehn; it relies on shock value, but imo it invokes intense empathy and humanizes the subject.

(please let me know if this post comes across as  antagonistic, I can delete it)

Post (hide subjects) Posted by
(unknown member)
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow