Street Fighter


I’ve been thinking about the various types of photography that I do. I enjoy changing it up and trying out different techniques. Partly, I guess I am trying to find a niche, but mostly its just experimentation and keeping things fresh.

What I was hoping to do in this blog was just to have a quick think about the ”value” of these different styles. What I mean by ”value” is the artistic merit of the image; how much of me is in it, what makes it unique and special, what makes it different from al the other similar images out there zooming their way around the twitterverse and blogosphere!?

Does one genre of photo instantly give it more value than another? The reason this topic came to me is that some pictures I feel almost guilty taking responsibility for. Elliott Erwitt and Cartier Bresson are amazing photographers and produced some incredible street photographs, so why do I feel like I don”t ”own” the street pics I take. I feel like I just captured a moment, and its the moment that matters and not my picture. Sharing the moment is really what I”m doing, documenting it, and (now) distributing it. Is it my picture or am I documenting someone else”s moment?

It seems that other two types of photography I will use here; portraiture and landscapes are moreover an exercise in creativity and technical perfection. Two things that every photographer strives for. For me personally I feel pleased when I am able to visualise the picture I want, and then go and produce it. When I review these pictures, I feel that because I made all the decisions, location, light, subject, DoF, shutter speed etc etc etc that I own the image, that it is a product of my creativity. With streetphotography, I have (sometimes using good technique) grabbed a moment that didn”t belong to me and that is all.

Here are three examples to illustrate my point:

The Portrait:

Lots of set up, organising lighting, location, model, creating mood, moulding the expression etc, and furthermore following the session, lots of work in post to produce the final image I wanted.

The Landscape:

A result finding the location, of much waiting for conditions to be right, trial and error in shutter speeds and DoF, a technical exercise. This was one of my earliest photographs, but one I am very proud of, I felt I ”worked” to get the image I wanted.

The StreetPhoto:

The result of a walk in park, seeing the potential, waiting for the right moment and, click. Little technique required, just luck of the drawer and some quick thinking.

The point of this post isn’t to belittle streetphotography, in fact it is one of my favourite forms of the art, but merely to open a discussion on how much of ”us” is in our candid photos of others, do we own the photograph, or are we merely documenters of everyday moments that become art when we click the shutter?  I don”t know….. What do you think?’


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