Street Photography

Street photography is art and if art is a crime, please God, forgive me.
— Thomas Leuthard

  As mentioned previously on this blog, street photography is my favourite genre of photography. It is where I started, like many other photographers; teaching ourselves about the camera we’re holding and the medium in general. The genre is a popular training ground/workspace as it offers photographers a wide range of subjects, shapes, tones and settings, as well as a substantial element of unpredictability and risk.

 It is also a controversial genre, as Thomas Leuthard’s quote relates to. The controversy centres on the idea that taking a picture of someone on the street is an invasion of privacy. To this end, the below article (see link) examines a number of photographer’s different perspectives on the genre and this moral dilemma.
— Daily Post

The article offers interesting insights into how photographers approach the genre and tackle the moral predicaments it throws up. I am very much in the “street photography as an art form” camp (however pretentious that sounds). However, I do understand the opposing argument. Ultimately, I feel it comes down to the way you behave and the guidelines you adhere to when taking images on the street. The main thing I took away from the discussion is the importance of having personal guidelines that negate the morale ambiguity of the genre. Similarly to the photographers featured in the article, I have a set of guidelines that I stick to when capturing images on the street:


·      Try to engage your subject in someway after taking the picture. I.e. a smile or nod, if its appropriate say hello – the aim isn’t to be completely invisible, it’s to get insightful images that tell a story or capture someone’s character.

·      Never keep/take a photo of someone who is uncomfortable with having his or her picture taken. In my mind, any charm a photograph had is diminished if the subject is unhappy/uncomfortable as a result.

·      Never take a picture that pokes fun at the subject.

·      Try to keep a low profile – this enables more natural, candid images.

·      Avoid taking images of the homeless – it’s probably my least favourite street photography cliché and if I was homeless the last thing I’d want is a photographer sticking a camera in my face.

I will continue to take photographs of people on the street while adhering to the above guidelines and being mindful of the impact of my presence when taking pictures. I feel the images gained offer cultural, social and creative insights into people and a place where many of us spend a large proportion of our lives.