Street photography around the world.
The photos are ordered chronologically – from the first 2004 attempts up to the newest from 2014. Quite a few taken while out shooting with my travel and street photography workshop participants.
What is street photography?
Most people say that street photography features people photographed on the street in unposed situations. In my opinion this definition is too broad as it includes portraiture, travel or editorial photography, which might have nothing to do with the genre. However, it can be refined easily to define proper street photography by adding just one word – “a twist”. A little twist – something clever, funny, unexpected, surprising or ambiguous. Something making you scratch your head, something putting a smile on your face. And the photo does not have to be taken on the street – it can be shot indoors, on the beach or in the forest. What matters is that little “twist” making it unusual.
These photos with a twist do not come often. So I don’t call myself a street photographer, I am just a photographer who sometimes manages to take a “street photograph”.
What are the key elements of a good photograph? In my opinion it is the content, composition and light.
The content is most important. Sometimes a poorly composed and lit photograph still can be good, what matters is the message it conveys. The decisive moment is what all street photographers want to capture. It is once in a liftetmime opportunity, once it is gone, it will never happen again. It is a sort of apogee, the exact moment when something happened. The timing is crucial. Street photographers also love juxtapositons – combining different things into something unexpected.
The composition is the way elements are placed in the frame, how they relate to each other. It greatly depends on the distance from the subject – usually the closer you get the more dynamic perspectives you achieve, making your compositions more interesting. It is all about where the camera is positioned and when the shutter is released. Where and when.
The light is what illuminates the scene. It can be natural – coming from the Sun directly (giving us shadows) or through the clouds; or artificial – coming from a bulb in the ceiling or from a flashgun on top of the camera. A bad light or inapropriate handling of it can ruin the shot, a good light can make it very special. Once you understand the light and learn handling it your pictures will be so much better.
When these three elements come together nicely in one frame you most probably have a great photo.
Here are some of my favourite quotes about street photography:
“The difference between a good picture and a mediocre picture is a question of millimeters — small, small differences — but it’s essential. I didn’t think there is such a big difference between photographers. Very little difference. But it is that little difference that counts, maybe.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
“Street-photography is kind of an endless pursuit of a perfect moment, that you can’t really imagine in your head, but when you see it somehow you realize: that’s it. You develop a sort of hyper alertness and you try and fit into the flow and into the energy of the street.” – Nina Berman
“Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera.”…”Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson