What is street photography?

_RX100_DSC1889 copy
Calling in to check if the city is really there. Sony RX100

Sometimes, I think I’m a bit of a masochist. I actually like to shoot difficult subjects, and increasingly of late I’m also starting to write a lot about difficult topics. Today’s article seems like a very simple question to answer: what is street photography?

The more I try to nail it down – and I spent a considerable amount of time on this before the Finding Light workshop – so I would know what to cover, and more importantly, what my students would expect me to cover. The first point of confusion comes when you try to decide what is ‘street’ and what isn’t: what about public spaces? What about museums, galleries, fora etc? Stairs? Restaurants? Hawker centers? Public transport, like the Underground?

And here’s another question: does street photography always have to have human subjects in the frame? And when does street photography turn into travel reportage?

You can see how this becomes confusing. I’ve decided that in general, the genre is loosely defined around several broad guidelines (at least for me; your mileage may vary). Let’s take a closer look at these.

_VL31_L1010048 copy
Hands up. Leica V-Lux 3.

Street photography is unplanned.
If you’re controlling any of the elements in the scene, then it starts to become a conceptual or even outdoor studio shoot – posed models in public definitely do not count as street photography: the photographer knew (or should have known) exactly what poses, look and lighting he wanted before beginning the shoot. (You certainly wouldn’t hire a model and get shooting permission if you had no intention to shoot there, would you?) There is also a reactive element to it – spontaneity and the ability to anticipate are both critical tools for the street photographer. You really never know what you’re going to get on any given day, and that’s what draws photographers to the genre: a never-ending source of material.

_5010054bw copy
Breakfast. Sony RX100

Street photography mostly uses available light.
In fact, the only exception I can think of to this rule is the work of Bruce Gilden and his imitators. Setting up lights on the street corner or using a big flash tends to make the photographer extremely conspicuous, which that removes the unplanned element. People either go out of their way to be photographed, or alternatively, avoid you completely. Part of the challenge and attraction to street photography is the very fact that the light, amongst other things, is not under your control. A photographer has to train their eye to see interesting light, and their muscle memory to be able to take advantage of it – sometimes under extremely fleeting circumstances.

_RX100_DSC0731b copy
Rojak. Sony RX100

Street photography may or may not involve people.
This is a question of scale; at the near or human scale, you have that which are dominated by people as the primary subject; at the large scale you have entire cityscapes and street scenes, that use people to give context and scale to the image. The farther away you go, the more the image becomes about the atmosphere and the feeling of the place, rather than the people who inhabit it. That said, there is no reason why you cannot take photos of something which you happen to see while walking around looking for these scenes or people; this is the kind of thing which I like to call ‘street furniture’ – interesting lampposts, mail boxes and other geometries are also fair game. I think it is also possible to make an argument to include casual architecture in the genre; I know that when I travel, I tend to shoot a lot of interesting buildings with or without human context involved – simply because these are things I see while walking around, and they add a lot to the context and general feel of a place.

_RX100_DSC0728b copy
Morning papers. Sony RX100

Street photography, if involving people, tends to do so under situations where they generally do not expect to be photographed.
I suppose this sounds both a little bit voyeuristic, and slightly contradictory when it comes to frequently photographed public tourist attractions such as Trafalgar Square, but in general even though a person may know that you are photographing them, they certainly didn’t leave the house preparing for in the morning. This variety and unpredictability of people is yet one more aspect of what makes street photography interesting.

_RX100_DSC0628bw copy
Door symmetry. Sony RX100

Street photography, if involving people, generally has subjects that are unfamiliar or unknown to the photographer.
Perhaps this may be an overly fine distinction to make, however if a subject is known to the photographer and the photographer is familiar with the subject, there is usually some form of interaction between them. This relationship is usually clearly reflected in the photograph. I personally find that one of the things that makes street photography interesting is the fact that for that brief moment while you’re photographing somebody, there is that instant of connection between you and your subject which is then preserved for posterity – even if you never happen to see them again.

_RX100_DSC0351bw copy
Sometimes, smaller is better. Sony RX100

Street photography must always have a subject, regardless of any of the above restrictions.
This rule is a fundamental of photography in general, not just street photography. However, I feel it necessary to draw attention to this specifically because there are so many images out there on the Internet which claim to be ‘street photographs’ – yet they fail fundamentally as photographs because they lack a clear subject or idea. Even though the photograph itself may not be planned, this does not mean that you can’t have an idea in the instant instant when you see a potential frame, which is then executed immediately.

_RX100_DSC0645b copy
Evening. Sony RX100

Street photography must observe certain ethical restrictions.
This is very much a personal thing. There are certain people or things that I will not photograph because I do not feel comfortable doing so. In general however, a good rule to go by is not to do to other people what you would not want done to you; this includes intrusion into personal space, photographing people in potentially compromising positions, or under duress. I do not believe in taking photographs of the homeless, because I feel this is both exploitative and does not help them in any way. Similarly, paying somebody money to take their photograph may be an acceptable way to make a living in certain countries where there is no choice, however this is not something I want to encourage because I feel that widespread proliferation of this both discourages social documentary as well as taking away from the authenticity of the image.

_RX100_DSC0397bw copy
Christo comes to Kuala Lumpur. Sony RX100

Street photography has an element of reportage or the documentary to it.
Given that a strong photograph must have a distinct subject and a clear idea, the easiest way to do this in a street photography image is by capturing a moment. This is where HCB’s idea of the decisive moment becomes critical; in that one moment, all of the elements in the frame come together to tell a story. There is only one decisive moment for each story, but many possible stories for any given scene. If all street images have a story to them, then becomes clear that what we street photographers are collectively doing is capturing daily life for posterity. In areas where the pace of change is increasingly rapid – especially in developing countries – I feel there is a certain element of social responsibility here for all able photographers. (Or, at very least, the desire to show your descendants what life was like during your time.)

_M9P2_L1000663 copy
Outside the W. Leica M9-P, Zeiss ZM 2.8/28

Street photography is not restricted to black and white.
There are many reasons why historical street photography was done in black and white; most of them because that was either the only film available, or because it was a lot cheaper than color – especially in the quantities that prolific street photographers tend to shoot. Today, I sometimes get the feeling that black and white is overused as a distraction to cover up the fact that the image itself is fundamentally mediocre. Instagram certainly does not help things. Is important to remember the fundamental rules of color and composition to decide when black and white or color may be more appropriate. (Black and white works well for strong luminance contrasts and oblique lighting; color should be used when it is the primary means of isolation of your subject.)

_M9P2_L1000234 copy
Looking up. Leica M9-P, Zeiss ZM 2.8/28

Street photography takes place in public spaces.
In a private, or restricted access space, the people who use the space tend to be known to each other, which changes the dynamics of interaction between them (and the photographer). Public spaces maintain a degree of unpredictability simply because you never know who is going to be your subject.

Street photography doesn’t always have to have a purpose, but each image must aim to say something.
In fact, most photographers tend to shoot in the street genre simply because they feel like going out to photograph, but may not necessarily have any specific subjects in mind; I do this all the time. This of course does not mean that week images are acceptable!

_M9P2_L1000119 copy
Contemplating the markets. Leica M9-P, Zeiss ZM 2.8/28

Street photography doesn’t require you to fill the frame with a random stranger’s face.
One of the common misconceptions is that street photography always requires a clearly identifiable stranger or or person dominating the frame; let’s take a step back and think about the way we perceive the world when we are out walking on the streets. Our eyes scan around us, taking in the entire scene, and this generally corresponds to something around the 28mm field of view. It is very rare that our attention lingers on any one particular person or point, unless they are strikingly outstanding. Personally, my photographic style is developing in a direction that makes me want to replicate and reconstruct what I see both in reality altered by the filter of my mind’s eye, which means that the perspective I choose to frame my images tend to correspond to what I see. These tend to take one of two distinct perspectives, the first of which is slightly wide, corresponding to my general field of view; the second is narrower, akin to when you are focused on something and the rest of the scene gets ignored – 28, and 85mm.

_X21_L1020014bw copy
Escape route. Leica X2.

Street photography can be done with any equipment.
Although there are some cameras that are better suited to street photography than others, there is really no reason why you can’t use anything you happen to feel like using on the day. There are two ways of shooting street; the first is always to be set up and ready, which requires you to preset focus and exposure and work solely on framing at the instant of capture; the second is to be reactive and have a camera that is capable of both focusing and exposing very quickly. However no matter how fast the camera, a degree of anticipation is required in order to capture the decisive moment – there will always be some lag between you seeing the moment, due process happening, and the shutter firing.

_M9P1_L1012531 copy
Shadows. Leica M9-P, 35/1.4 ASPH FLE

Street photography and travel photography are largely interchangeable.
The only difference between the two is purpose and intention: the former can be when you are shooting with no specific goal or project in mind; the latter is almost always when you want to capture the feeling or mood of a place that happens to be both unfamiliar to you and fleeting or temporary; there’s a time limit on how long the photographer has to absorb and observe. That also introduces a perspective difference: when you travel, you look at a place through different eyes than a local; however, most street photographers operate primarily in their home cities.

_M9P1_L1012454 copy
Bangkok bus. Leica M9-P, 35/1.4 ASPH FLE

Having broken down my thought process in this article, I’m actually no longer sure that there is a concrete definition of street photography. At the same time, I don’t think that it should be a catch-all genre for everything else that doesn’t have its own category. Perhaps the simplest, and most accurate, definition is simply to think of it as ‘reporting on life'; through our images we are documenting the daily life of the people around us. I wouldn’t go so far as to think of ourselves as social anthropologists, but who’s to say what these extensive collections of images – assuming they survive – may be used for a few hundred years from now? MT

____________

Visit our Teaching Store to up your photographic game – including Photoshop Workflow DVDs and customized Email School of Photography; or go mobile with the Photography Compendium for iPad. You can also get your gear from B&H and Amazon. Prices are the same as normal, however a small portion of your purchase value is referred back to me. Thanks!

Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and join the reader Flickr group!

appstorebadge

Images and content copyright Ming Thein | mingthein.com 2012 onwards. All rights reserved

Comments

  1. Fistly thanks for writing up these thought og yours and sharing them. I totally agree with you that street photography is unplanned. And there isn’t a very concrete definition of what it is. But all I know and what I have been observing so far, there are only a few real street photographers out there, even in the magnum circle. In my limited view, I see it simply as a juxtaposition of elements and subjects caught in split second. Very candid, caught off guard, and situations often missed when we are not paying attention to what’s going on around us. Most brilliant street photographers like Martin Parr often having the ability to predict what’s going to happen just by observing human behavior. Yes, in a way it’s like a documentation of everyday life,… But I think it’s a lot more than just that. It’s how you capture something, in the most artistic sense, in that matter, so fast that everyone else around you misses it, and sum it up in a shot.

    • Agreed: prediction and anticipation are the key. I spent a lot of time training myself just to observe and be ready – even so, a lot of times things just happen too fast for you to react to.

  2. wow, amazing article! I need not write an article about it already, you covered everything! :D Looks like my perception of street photography is exactly like yours, so nothing to add / debate about. :D

    I don’t categorize myself as a street photographer but I do it once in a while, it’s really fun. My last outing was at Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photo Walk. :)

  3. Sean // Hewlbane says:

    … street photography is the act of photographing in the street: it obeys no rules, but you ‘know’ when an image is not a street photograph …

  4. The 2nd photo made me laugh, good capture

  5. This is a very good and useful blog, I’m sure I will get back to it – on purpose or by accident -, it’s that good. Love the pictures and on the text, I for example, fully agree on the points on color vs B&W, instagram and homeless people. These three points are in my opinion sometimes overused and thus undermining an otherwise beautiful, simple and fun artform.

  6. Street photography generally uses 50mm or wider lenses.
    People using 200mm – 400mm zooms are just voyeurs,
    If you are not part of the scene, you are not shooting the street

  7. Following up on Miles comment above I do worry a bit about the dilution of street photography.

    Like many people I believe “street” is about the interaction of people a public environment with each other or the environment. It needs some emotion or interaction to set it off from “snapshots” or an interesting idea or observation or composition.

    I also think it needs to be done with a normal or wider lens (50mm eq and down) so the photographer has “skin in the game” and is not stood off from the subjects.

    There is another name for “street without people” and that’s “Flaneur” (from the French for a person who walks around the streets without a goal in mind.) I spend a lot of time on flaneur photography (it doesn’t change quite as fast as “street” :-) and is perhaps a good place for neophytes to start.

    For example I’d categorize your photos above “Sometimes”, “Evening”, “Christo”, “Escape route” and “Bangkok bus” as Flaneur and most of the rest as “street”.

    Of course there is never a hard line in these fuzzy categories e.g. is “Outside the W” and “Looking up” street or flaneur? Perhaps the first one is flaneur (the composition is not really about the people but about seeing the objects and signs arranged around the frame) and the second is street (the policeman pointing … a human interaction) but clearly most of the composition is about the wonderful arrangement of umbrellas seen from an unusual angle (good seeing!).

    And lets not get into other definitions like “Social Landscape” or “New Topographics” (and any of the many other Flickr groups) that could equally apply to some of your images above.

    Each to his own but to use language well we need to agree on what various words or phrases mean otherwise they become meaningless for communication.

    • Or perhaps we leave it to the images to speak? Does it even matter, in reality? If you use 85mm and fill the shot with mostly your subject’s head, is that still ‘no skin in the game’? Getting that close with that large and obvious a lens isn’t any easier than shooting from the hip with 21mm.

      • Ming said: “If you use 85mm and fill the shot with mostly your subject’s head, is that still ‘no skin in the game’? ”

        IMO, no. That would be “candid portraiture” but not “street” because there is no enviroment or other people for the person to interact with.

        You see my distinction? The key for “street” is people, their environment and their interactions and their emotions.

        Without any of those items it’s some other genre: flaneur; urban landscape; reportage; abstract or whatever.

        Forget the focal length … there are others I know that don’t agree with that stipulation but that’s a widley held view amongst street photographers. The main idea is relative closeness of the photographer to the subject: not a “stand off” feeling that you can get with the distance of telephoto shots.

        The images can stand for themselves but that doesn’t help a discusion that references “street” as a term if we all have different ideas of what “street” is. That’s the reality: the term is used to communicate an idea so it has to have a common meaning otherwise it communicates little.

        • If you stopped down the 85mm, then you could still have enough context to qualify as street. In any case, the point was that the definitions are rather blurred to begin with – such is the nature of any subjective art.

          Personally, I don’t like the term either: it’s too loose, and somehow seems either overly trivializing of what is not technically easy to pull off, or at the same time used as a catch-all for images with no substance.

    • 100% agree with Kevin.
      If you don’t have skin in the game, you are just an observer and that defeats the whole nature of street IMHO.
      Removes the danger and the excitement…

      I see people on 500px getting lots of positive comments for their “street photography” but when you read the Exif data you see the shot was taken from a distance with a 300mm lens.
      That’s more like sniping whereas street is more like hand to hand combat :)

  8. Hello Ming,

    I do enjoy your posts a lot both from an artistic as well as an instructional perspective.

    In street (or probably more so travel) photography, I wonder how to deal with local laws. I currently live in Germany, where you are required to obtain a person’s consent before publishing their photo. For instance in a photo contest, which I recently took part in (it was called “foto marathon”, though apparently they only exist in German speaking countries), photographers were encouraged to provide written consent of the subjects they took pictures of. Needless to say that the number of entries with street photography type shots was very low, compared to similar contests in Austria, for instance.

    Do you ever approach your subjects after the shot to ask for permission? How are you dealing with this issue in your workshops abroad (you have planned one in Munich next year, right)? Were you ever approached by someone who found themselves a subject of a photo you posted online?

    Kind regards,
    Mario

    • You don’t need consent for non-commercial use. Online postings are editorial (and in my case, always non-commercial). People can be photographed in a public place without consent, at least in the countries I operate in. I don’t ask for permission, but I’ll generally nod, smile and acknowledge if people see me photographing – nobody minds, generally. Never been approached by a person who saw themselves online in one of my photos – the chances of that happening are pretty low, I think.

  9. Great post – again, Ming. Very good considerations. One of the many books about street photography I like is this: http://bit.ly/avw9wX. Would you mind to give your comments about these: http://bit.ly/VltcB6?

  10. Gotta agree with most of your points here. The only things I disagree with are..

    … May or May Not Involve People: I’m personally unhappy with the way street photography is being diluted to that point being acceptable. It must, must, must, involve people, or at least have a human element in it for me to consider it being street photography. Otherwise, any random thing can be street, even if it has a “subject”.

    … Ethical Restrictions: I respect the laws of a country. But that’s about it. Ethics, like you said, is a personal thing. But for me, if street photographers cared about what is ethical, then a lot of good photos wouldn’t have been taken. It’s all about the photo.

    … Element of Reportage or Documentary…: That for me is what street photography is becoming now, unfortunately. Images like Bresson’s that at times, were taken just because it was well-composed and everything was in the right place, are disappearing simply because people expect a story in a street photograph.

    But that’s just me. I’m a bit more of a “purist” when it comes to street photography.

    I’d personally add one more point, which is..
    Street photography is not taking a photograph of performances. In a sense, it’s a support your point of being unplanned. For example, a street performer always expects to be photographed but doesn’t necessarily mean that every moment of their performance is planned for them to be photographed in. I personally don’t think a photograph of a street performer performing counts as a street photograph at all, even though it’s on the streets.

    A good read, nevertheless. Cheers.

    • Interesting points, thanks for the feedback. I wish that I was seeing the increase in documentary style you are – it seems frankly there’s more and more random snapshotty crap out there that people try and pass off as something artistic.

  11. Lisa Osta says:

    You make umbrellas dance!

  12. Very nice article and overview. I do have one question on your first point: how unplanned is unplanned? Suppose I find an interesting background and know that I want a picture of someone walking into the right side of the frame. I sit and wait, and when an interesting looking person comes by, that’s when I take the picture. I certainly planned the picture that I wanted, although the actual person that was in the shot was a matter of happenstance. Or maybe not, if I let a few people go by before deciding to take the photo with the fifth person that came into the shot.

    I guess my take is that everyone seems to have their own definition of street photography, which is where your last point of there being no concrete definition of street photography come in.

    • Thanks Wilbur. I do the same as you, so I would think that falls into unplanned – you didn’t set up the background and lights etc. You just know that the scene had potential, but required the right chance element to complete it.

  13. Karsten Weber-Grellet says:

    Ming!
    What about postprocessing? Is there a contradiction with street photography?

    • No, why would it be?

      • Karsten Weber-Grellet says:

        One idea of street photography could be, that only the original shot can show the real and true situation.
        What will i show? This photo , which I took unmodified or something, which comes out in photoshop? Street photography must be strong, because you will capture the unique situation – on the street!!

        • Photoshop should be treated like developing film: you can only enhance the presentation of what is there, not alter the fundamental underlying structure of the image. So if your image is weak, photoshop won’t help. Likewise, if it’s strong, it can only be made better (if the processing is done properly).

  14. This is an excellent article that I really enjoyed reading. My girlfriend doesn’t really ‘get’ why I feel compelled to shoot while walking from place to place in San Francisco. I forwarded this to her in hopes it might shed a little bit of light on the subject for her. Very articulate and well thought out writing accompanied by excellent images. Thanks so much!

  15. Thanks again for a great tutorial! Am trying to keep up with the posts and I feel am in a crash course like the ones that cover 1 semester in 1 lecture!

  16. Very inspiring, Ming. Thank you!

  17. Boyboy Tse says:

    Quite a number of you photoes’ exif show -0.33 or -0.67 EV. Is street photography should not rely on the camera’s exposure? If so, is there any short cut to decide how much exposure compensation should be used, apart from practice and practice?

    • No, it’s a conscious choice because I don’t want to lose any of the highlights. There are no rules for street photography, that was the point of the post…

      • Hi Ming, superb article and photos, as always.

        In your previous post on “Achieving Ultimate Image Quality,” you explained that nailing exposure usually means exposing to the right of the histogram so that highlights just clip — in order to keep the shadow details out of the lower, noisier range — and recover the highlights in post.

        So why the change in strategy to protect the highlights at capture in this case?

        Thanks.

        • Thanks Don. Depends on a) the camera (and thus its highlight recoverability latitude) and b) the final look you’re going for. Expose to the right/ just clip gives you the most flexibility possible, but if you know you want a low key image, then there’s no harm in being half a stop lower or so. Some sensors have a different tonal response in different portions of the exposure zones (for want of a better term).

  18. Couldn’t have posted that 4th one, with wife in it – she wouldn’t have allowed it…

  19. Recently I say a giant tirade on a blog about street. The guy said “look at my street photography” and the images were casually posed. They were nice but a little snapshotty. The blog commenters got on him because of the posed nature of the shots. My opinion was that at least he got out there with a camera. I really don’t think there’s any right or wrong as long as you get out there and shoot. The imapct of images will of course vary based on talent and the perspective of the shooter.

  20. I’ve always felt that photos are livelier when one includes human subjects due to the interaction between human(s) and its surrounding area. On another note, the RX100 is by far the best tool in this respect with its lightning fast focus.

    I’ve heard some say that if your photos are not impactful enough, that’s because you’re not close enough, especially more so in street photography. Any thoughts on that?

    P/S: I noticed that you roam around medan pasar area quite a fair bit, brings back good memories while I was working there.

    • I think if your composition isn’t filled, then it’s possible you weren’t close enough – and makes the adage true. But if you fill the frame properly with context, I don’t see why a longer range shot can’t work as well as a tight one; there is such a thing as too close.

  21. greycoopers says:

    Ming – Bravo for tackling difficult subjects. I like the way you pair your points with photos, as you do so effectively in this article. I have a particular fondness for frontages and windows, and so the first shot in this article really works for me.

    EGOR of http://www.ultrasomething.com/photography/ and http://www.blog.leica-camera.com/topics/photographers/blog-contributors/egor/puts it rather well: “I like to capture humans being”. Thanks for your prolific output!

  22. Me too!
    Suddenly am feeling an urge to hold the RX100 in my hands! :-)

  23. Love “Looking up” !

Trackbacks

  1. […] Hence the large quantity of street photography. By a similar token, I don’t believe in a conventional definition of street photography; I think of it as something on the documentary spectrum but towards the end where you don’t […]

  2. […] been criticised in the past for not getting ‘close enough’ for my images to qualify as street photography, so I’m not going to claim it as such even though there’s no strict definition of the […]

  3. […] and stylistic shifts in our photographic journey as we explore new things; having shot a lot of street, cinematic and reportage work in recent years, perhaps it’s time for a […]

  4. […] dose of optimism – to even attempt it. Street photography (the genre itself being discussed in this previous article) is the kind of thing that’s handled best with a responsive, unobtrusive camera that also has a […]

  5. […] several overseas trips, I wanted to share a few thoughts on travel photography. It seems that like street photography, the ‘travel’ genre is almost a generic catch-all bucket for images that don’t […]

  6. [...] There is a lot of discussion as to what street photography is and what it is not. There are many methods to the technique itself and each method can sway the discussion. To me, stopping to actually ask someone to pose versus grabbing a candid shot of someone in their moment leaves a totally different energetic imprint on the art work itself. However, does planned street portraiture disqualify from being included in the street photography genre? [...]

  7. [...] Calling in to check if the city is really there. Sony RX100 Sometimes, I think I’m a bit of a masochist. I actually like to shoot difficult subjects, and increasingly of late I’m also s…  [...]

  8. [...]   Sometimes, I think I’m a bit of a masochist. I actually like to shoot difficult subjects, and increasingly of late I’m also starting to write a lot about difficult topics. Today’s article seems like a very simple question to answer: what is street photography? The more I try to nail it down – and I spent a considerable amount of time on this before the Finding Light workshop – so I would know what to cover, and more importantly, what my students would expect me to cover. The first point of confusion comes when you try to decide what is ‘street’ and what isn’t: what about public spaces? What about museums, galleries, fora etc? Stairs? Restaurants? Hawker centers? Public transport, like the Underground? And here’s another question: does street photography always have to have human subjects in the frame? And when does street photography turn into travel reportage? You can see how this becomes confusing. I’ve decided that in general, the genre is loosely defined around several broad guidelines (at least for me; your mileage may vary). Let’s take a closer look at these.   Street photography is unplanned.If you’re controlling any of the elements in the scene, then it starts to become a conceptual or even outdoor studio shoot – posed models in public definitely do not count as street photography: the photographer knew (or should have known) exactly what poses, look and lighting he wanted before beginning the shoot. (You certainly wouldn’t hire a model and get shooting permission if you had no intention to shoot there, would you?) There is also a reactive element to it – spontaneity and the ability to anticipate are both critical tools for the street photographer. You really never know what you’re going to get on any given day, and that’s what draws photographers to the genre: a never-ending source of material…    [...]

  9. [...] Calling in to check if the city is really there. Sony RX100 Sometimes, I think I’m a bit of a masochist. I actually like to shoot difficult subjects, and increasingly of late I’m also s…  [...]

  10. [...] 2. what is street photography? by Ming Thein [...]

  11. [...] Calling in to check if the city is really there. Sony RX100 Sometimes, I think I’m a bit of a masochist. I actually like to shoot difficult subjects, and increasingly of late I’m also s…  [...]

  12. [...] Calling in to check if the city is really there. Sony RX100 Sometimes, I think I’m a bit of a masochist. I actually like to shoot difficult subjects, and increasingly of late I’m also s…  [...]

  13. [...] Edit: Just to share, Ming Thein’s definitive take on what makes street photography what it is. [...]

  14. [...] it fits into the thread: Ming Thein about Street Photography: What is street photography? Nikon D5100 + AF-S DX Nikkor 35m f/1.8G + AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED [...]

  15. [...]   Sometimes, I think I’m a bit of a masochist. I actually like to shoot difficult subjects, and increasingly of late I’m also starting to write a lot about difficult topics. Today’s article seems like a very simple question to answer: what is street photography? The more I try to nail it down – and I spent a considerable amount of time on this before the Finding Light workshop – so I would know what to cover, and more importantly, what my students would expect me to cover. The first point of confusion comes when you try to decide what is ‘street’ and what isn’t: what about public spaces? What about museums, galleries, fora etc? Stairs? Restaurants? Hawker centers? Public transport, like the Underground? And here’s another question: does street photography always have to have human subjects in the frame? And when does street photography turn into travel reportage? You can see how this becomes confusing. I’ve decided that in general, the genre is loosely defined around several broad guidelines (at least for me; your mileage may vary). Let’s take a closer look at these.   Street photography is unplanned.If you’re controlling any of the elements in the scene, then it starts to become a conceptual or even outdoor studio shoot – posed models in public definitely do not count as street photography: the photographer knew (or should have known) exactly what poses, look and lighting he wanted before beginning the shoot. (You certainly wouldn’t hire a model and get shooting permission if you had no intention to shoot there, would you?) There is also a reactive element to it – spontaneity and the ability to anticipate are both critical tools for the street photographer. You really never know what you’re going to get on any given day, and that’s what draws photographers to the genre: a never-ending source of material…    [...]

  16. [...] Sometimes, I think I’m a bit of a masochist. I actually like to shoot difficult subjects, and increasingly of late I’m also starting to write a lot about difficult topics. Today’s article seems like a very simple question to answer: what is street photography?  [...]

Thoughts? Leave a comment here and I'll get back to you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 27,360 other followers

%d bloggers like this: