Tag Archives: documentary photography

Observations About Street Photography

Observations About Street Photography

Street photography is a topic that piques the interest of many aspiring photographers. From my conversations with my photography students it is clear that this is a genre of great appeal and the source of some confusion. The confusion stems from definitions and the overlap with documentary style photography.

For me, personally the works of well-known street photographers have served as inspiration for my image making. Robert Frank, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Gary Winogrand are a few of my favorite practitioners of the form whose work I admire. I would urge you to seek out their images and see their artistic vision. Getting out and working public spaces with my camera is one of my favorite photo activities and a welcome break from the client work I produce.  Don’t get me wrong, I am always happy working behind the camera. It’s just that street photography allows for more discovery and creative freedom that just adds to my pleasure.


Street versus Documentary Photography – Aren’t street photography and documentary photography the same thing?

Street and documentary photography are similar photographic genres. They have styles, techniques and visual qualities in common along with distinctions in form. Documentary photography is about accurate depiction of events, of capturing history as it unfolds. Photojournalism is a documentary version of photography.

Documentary photography is a subjective. Street photography is objective.

For street photographers there is only single subject people. For the documentary photographer any and all subjects including people are recorded. Street photography is candid and about life. Candid by definition means the subject is not aware of the camera when the shutter trips.

Street photography is not connected to real events; rather it is a record of ordinary slice of life moments usually made in public places. It‘s intent is to capture mirror images of society and social conditions as observed and typically without the subjects awareness of being photographed.

Street photography is an instinctual response to the unpredictable moments that unfold in front of us. Unlike a documentary photo the image is not made with the purpose of making a record, rather it is an expression of discovery. It does not have to present a narrative, it is enigmatic by definition and is simply an artistic observation.

Framing and timing are the primary elements of successful street photography. Creating images of poignant moments, arrangements of content and moment is what being a street photographer is all about.

If you want to know more about street photography consider attending one of my photo workshops.  My next street photo experience is on October 25, 2014 when I am returning to New York City with a group of photographers.  The New York City Street Photo Workshop includes round trip travel from New Hampshire , lunch and so much more for  details go to the event website.