I don't get street photography. Please explain

Started May 3, 2013 | Discussions thread
richardplondon Forum Pro • Posts: 10,797
Re: Never seen a good "street" shot

Thanks to GOOD street photographers you have that chance to see those other people. Thanks to the BAD ones we know that most peoples' backsides from 20 feet walking away from the camera look about the same.

Most people's kittens, sunsets, even children look generally speaking about the same, even when seen from the front (grin). But these picture subjects don't all MEAN the same to the various people who take pictures of them. Same is true for the things that are seen and experienced in the street, subway, sporting event, marriage, or wherever.

If photographers have the heart and artistry (let's not use the art word until we have to) to make someone else care about something that was in front of their cameras, based only on what is evident in the photos ...

...then I don't see why a specific experience from their public world (that we know of only through the photo) should be any less interesting to us, than a kitten or child or bug on a flower from his/her private world (assuiming we also know that only through the photo).

I think a lot of people are (IMO) sentimentalists, if believing that a picture of something cute will succeed only if it is a cute representation - and are unadventurous, if believing that a picture of something "depressing" is going to be at best a successfully depressing representation.

(The key words, there, are "of" and "representation". How many comedians can make us laugh all the harder at more and more dire situations - incidents from their own lives btw, and not from our own - purely through talented and insightful storytellling?)

The miracle of the best street photography, is how it transcends its specific subject matter and alludes to more universal forms of experience. It's similar to how - no, it's the exact same thing as how - the best portraiture transcends the bare facts of bouncing light rays off a few kilograms of flesh and bone onto a light-sensitive surface, and speaks not only about the totality of the person recorded, but also about the complex rapport between subject, and photogapher, and viewer.

If photographers lack this heart and artistry it will make no difference what they point the camera at.

On the other hand, if viewers of photographs lack interest in and receptivity to the purely photographic stories and emotions that are being laid out for them, and are interested only in seeing the physical subject by vicarious means - then it is not surprising if they do not value the photos differently than how they regard the physical subjects. Their loss.


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