Street Photography is perhaps one of the oldest genres of photography today. It is also a genre of photography that is very much widely seen, whether it is in the newspaper, the internet, or even in the art gallery. And with the popularity of image-sharing sites and social media services like Flickr and Instagram, street photography has become more popular than ever.
It is easy to see why as these photographs provide a visual treat at first glance, only to be hit hard by the message or theme these photos portray as we look closely at them. It is this characteristic that makes street photography compelling.
Street Photography Defined
But what exactly is street photography? Let not the name fool you, street photography is not about taking photos of the neighborhood. Instead, it is defined as a genre that captures scenes depicting the human condition or way of life in a given moment at an outdoor setting. In other words, street photography is about people rather than places.
As with any genre of photography like what Mark Godfree practices, you don’t just take any photo. In this case, you don’t just take photos of people out on the streets. There is an element of composition that must be in place in the photo. There should be at least a distinct artistry also that the photo should possess.
Despite these rules in place, as a street photographer, you don’t get to plan what you want to shoot. There are no preparations in place beforehand nor would you make your subject do a predetermined action. In street photography, things just happen and you capture them when they happen. You just rely on your keen sense of observation, timing, and instinct to capture the moments that encapsulate the slice of a subject or subjects’ life at the right time.
The Challenge and Rewards of Street Photography
This aspect of street photography, admittedly, is something that even experienced photographers still find challenging from time to time. Indeed, it takes experience, skill, and a level of perception to find and compose that right moment on photo.
There is also a matter of possibly getting “caught” in the middle of photography, ruining a moment as well as being a source of embarrassment. One has to learn to be discreet or at least be able to hide the fact that you are trying to take a photo of the subject or subjects in question.
As challenging as this genre is, specializing in street photography provides a sense of satisfaction and reward, especially when you get to capture such moments on your camera and be able to effectively tell the story of the photo based on what you captured.
There is also a level of serendipity street photography provides as you discover elements and themes you never thought about when you captured it. At times, the viewer may see some more things about the photo that you never thought of in the first place, giving rise to different interpretations that would enrich the photograph as a work of art in the process.
The Photographer as an Artist
With these elements in place, the street photographer is not just a photographer anymore. He has become a visual artist who creates works of art that convey meaning to the viewer. Then again, any photographer can be considered a visual artist too.
In any case, being an artist entails that you have a responsibility to your audience create an output that is of quality and has meaning. Let your photographs convey what you want to express and what story you wish to share even if you don’t explicitly say it. A good photograph tells you all you need to know form that single frame that you captured.