What is Street Photography?. Due to the recent Photo Contest titled (Street Photography in Oman), I received a lot and a lot of entry, but big chunk of them was not exactly falls under the category of Street Photography. Than it hit me, that maybe I should write an article about it. Also I don’t blame them, street photography is very tricky to define, if you Google it you will find various definitions and every street photographer has his or her own definition, and of course for good reasons.
As for me, I started street photography when I bought my Leica M9 camera two years ago, and I was fascinated by the concept of this type of photography and after sometime and going through various articles from very experience street photographers and seeing bunch of photos around, I believe I have what it take to come up with my own definition of it. Its very difficult to put the definition in words, but I will try. I will combined all what I have read, see and experienced in hopefully one Definition
Street Photography Is that Spontaneous not staged photo that takes place in the Public places, where it involves people. key words here are Spontaneous, people and Public places.
(1) Spontaneous (Not Staged)
Its important to note that best street photos are the ones that looks as natural as possible, however there is a problem with that, even though they are considered street photo. But the winning photos are the one which look natural, but the photographers has planned for it in advance or waited for that what we call as DECISIVE MOMENT, as a result you end up with a photo that is stunning, story telling. So yes its spontaneous from the scene point of view, but from the street photographer not exactly, rather he or she took the time to plan for it. Or he or she was looking, always on alert to find that particular moment. Planning is not staging. Staging is where the Photographer involves the people in making of the photo. While Planning is only the photographer plans of when the right time to take the photo, which could involve waiting.
If there is no people in the photo, then its not street photography. Some argue differently, but for me, a street photo has to have people in it, for many reasons. One, is that if there is no people, than it can be any of the other type of photography (Landscape, Architectural, Wildlife etc). The trick though, is that people should be in some sort of spontaneous action. For example, he or she can pose for you, but it should look that it was a spontaneous pose, rather than a portrait type of POSING. Hence its safe to say all Studio Photography are not Street Photography, basically any photo that has some sort of Staged POSE to me its not street photography, its just another Portrait. For example
The photo of the old lady below, is street photography, because she didn’t pose, rather she just stay there overwhelmed of me taking photo of her.
However the photo below of this man with Tatoo, its a PORTRAIT, and not street photography, simply because he is posing for me, so no state of spontaneously nor element of surprise.
(3) Public Places
And the last elements, the photo taken should be in public places, places where no any sort of restrictions, people can go in and out freely. So photos taken inside your home, wedding, parties all not street photography. And places like, mall, streets, subway station etc all within the frame of street photography.
Finally, its important to note, there are Bad Street Photos and they are good street photo. And like any type of photography, what makes it a winning photo is the effort the photographer took to get that photo, and as a result you ended up with a photo that more or less talks to you and tells a story.
I hope the above some how shed some light. Now I have question to you all, below are two Photos. PHOTO ONE AND PHOTO TWO. Which of the photo below is street photography?. Are they both street photography, or one of them or none of them. And why?. Let me know