definition: An attempt to achieve or acquire something especially artfully; reaching after
by Essdras M Suarez, Pulitzer Prize Winning Photographer
Street Photography: Timeless Classics
Photographers have at some point or another pointed their camera down a street or city sidewalk to document a scene or a subject. Be it nearby in their own backyard or in some far away land.
One of the most common misconceptions of this genre is that it requires a street in the photo in order to be called as such. However what most good street photography requires is a decisive moment within the frame.
The most commonly accepted and yet least known theory of how this style of photography was born talks about an art critic in the 19th century who used the title of “impressionist,” as a derogatory term, to describe a group of painters who decided not only to have exhibitions on their own but who also chose to forego the themes found in classical paintings. Instead, they decided to add to their repertoire daily-life scenes. And as part of this process, some of them, enfant terrible, turn to photography.
At first they used photography as a way to supplement what they saw with their eyes. But it soon became clear that these photos of common occurrences and of regular people doing regular things had merits of their own.
The depiction of movement and capturing the Decisive Moment was one of the things that set street photography apart. However, this term, which is usually linked to Henri Cartier Bresson, was one he particularly disliked since it came from what e considered to be a shoddy English translation of the title one of his books: "Images à la Sauvette", which more closely translates to “furtive glimpses” or “surreptitious glimpses.”
Regardless of whatever you may call them: glimpses or decisive moments. The kind of street photography images that tend to cause and impact and endure the passage of time have an innate capacity of presenting a relatable subject or place while paying close attention to light, composition, and sometimes to unique and/or quirky situations. At other times these images have portrayed candid, intimate and or private moments such as a lover’s kiss or a mother’s embrace.
One way or another, good street photography is that which manages to capture the essence of a moment in a unique and aesthetically appealing manner.
If you haven’t yet, give it a try. Come and join the ranks of those photographers who’ve left an indelible mark in this genre and point your photographic devices to the normalcy of every daily life. Challenge yourself to document the common anew and to elicit the interest of those looking at your work.
And like always… remember: “Keep shooting, keep moving, keep adjusting.”
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