Broadly speaking street photography could be defined as any photography taken in a public space. However, this is not entirely true. Street Photography should be authentic, documenting real events and interactions happening without any intervention from the photographer. It should not be set up in any way. Neither should the resulting images from the scene witnessed be overly manipulated in post production.
For example, an image should not be enhanced by the addition or subtraction of any elements within it. In my opinion, the author may make minor adjustments by altering brightness and contrast for example perhaps cropping the image slightly, maybe clone out a piece of litter, but never alter a persons features or alter the scene in any fundamental way, not if you want to categorise it as a street image.
To my mind, it should be a record of reality, life as it happens. The very name describes the genre. It implies the everyday comings and goings of society. A street is where people live and work. The word suggests a town or city centre but could equally be housing estates in the suburbs, social events at large public venues, or indeed a village in the countryside. Anywhere people react and interact with each other and with their environment. It could also be argued that street photography does not need to include people. Different photographers take different stances on the definition, however, for me its about the people.
I suppose I tend to break Street Photography down into three loose subsections with the common denominator that all are shot in a public place.
- STREET PHOTOGRAPHY : Candid, In a public place, people, scene, context. Commonplace as well as unusual scenes. The everyday viewed in a different way.
- STREET FASHION : Preferably candid. Emphasis on the expression of personality through fashion choices. Finding interesting individuals in a good location with complimentary backgrounds would be the ideal.
- STREET PORTRAITURE : Asking a strangers permission to take their picture. The ability to pose and move the subject gives the photographer much more control over the final image. However this comes at a cost as inevitably the subject will have a less natural expression. An environmental portrait.
It is a very wide ranging genre of photography and these words are just my thoughts on a definition. I’m aware it sounds as if any photograph captured outside could almost work as a street picture. However, to be a good street image it needs to tell a story so context is an important factor to consider. Questioning whether an image tells a story of the street should be in our minds when presented with a scene and before we click the shutter. The main thing is to be out there taking pictures and to practice. Not so easy in these lockdown days but I still take my little Ricoh out with me on my daily walks. My pictures now are few and may only contain one person, but they are still street pictures and are telling the story of isolation and social distancing. It will probably be a changed world when we do emerge from the restrictions currently imposed but that will offer new opportunities to record the new ways we interact and communicate. One thing is for certain, we are social animals and there will be events, happenings and stories to tell.