The cult of street photography

Started Jun 28, 2015 | Discussions thread
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Brad Bohland
Brad Bohland Senior Member • Posts: 6,258
The cult of street photography
7

Recently, for the first time, I posted a few images on the Street Photography forum. I didn’t know that I’m required to follow in the footsteps of the admired street photographer Vivian Maier if I want to explore street photography myself.

(Whoops, another incorrect assumption on my part, according to a new thread on the pretender herself where she is discredited as follows: “[Vivian Maier]…is not universally considered to be one of the masters…she has been the subject of a brilliant marketing coup.” The true master is unknown to me, but I think the point of this thread is going to stand anyway, given the implication that there is a street photography standard which I’m not in line with, at least according to the feedback I’ve received.)

I naively thought I could just try to take the best shots I could get, like I do with everything else I photograph. But no, street photography isn’t like any other photography where you do what you want. You need to obey the rules.

The irony, of course, is that Vivian Maier was an original who did her own thing. But now, if you want to do street photography you have to do what she did, not by being original, but by imitating her work.

The photographers I most admire share two traits possessed by all the finest photographers, including Vivian Maier—talent and originality. Uninhibited by prevailing fashion, they create their own distinct style.

Few have that much talent, but anyone can be original. Imitating greatness doesn’t make you more than a copycat. And while what you do in your own way may not be terrific, at least it’s yours (and, as one wit put it so amusingly, with images like mine, there’s no worry of copyright infringement).

Not good enough to copyright, not orthodox enough to fit the current trend in street photography

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