Wednesday, May 11, 2011
When my father was alive he used to tell me the hardest feat in sports was to hit a 95mph fastball. I am not sure I agree but it certainly takes an immense amount of coordination. The equivalent feat in art might be street photography; more difficult than painting, writing, dancing, even music. Anyone can hit a single once in a while but it requires combining a lot of skills & techniques to “hit” for average as well as home-runs.
Photographing strangers is a challenging undertaking. Being confronted with the moral dilemma of “stealing” a picture of someone without their permission or to engage them, alter the reality &, therefore, lose all veracity, is comparable to juggling several balls in the air. At the same time trying to fashion a reasonable but provocative image, is almost existential.
Street photos are small, quixotic segments of a larger urban landscape. They are bits of a city—metaphors. You are developing small narratives with little beginning or end. Equipment is usually minimal. Rather it is the heart & mind behind the camera that makes compelling street photographs. Traditionally we have seen examples by Robert Frank, Eugene Atget, and Andre Kertesz but a new wave is represented by Alex Webb, Martin Parr & Constantine Manos who have changed it forever.
"Street photography is an age-old tradition, and also a solitary undertaking. It has been elevated by such luminaries as Robert Frank, Gary Winogrand and Lee Friedlander.Street photography is an active, confrontational art form where the objective is to see and react to life around you. It is ground zero. No rules".
The most adept have so many things to consider every time they point their cameras at something. As said before it is like juggling. Besides shutter speed & aperture, you are balancing light, composition, momentum, emotion, etc. And as you get better you add more balls.
In many places there is a de facto “war on street photography”. There is a lot more pressure on us. It is a wonderful tradition but suspicious minds attach some kind of perversion to it. So as practitioners we have to be more capable to deal with all these factors.