Strangers on the street can sometimes be the most action-rich subjects in photography. Just the way they look into the lens or maybe by even looking away paints a story in prints that is neither staged nor posed. It’s a fluid style of photography and maybe even the more challenging compared to other areas.
Shooting complete strangers can be unnerving for some people to imagine. The thought of photographing people in their element wherever they may be is tough enough. Imagine how much thought and decisiveness comes into play when you’re trying to paint a compelling picture. Photography virtuosos in the likes of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Vivian Maier, Alfred Eisenstaedt and Robert Doisneau captured their subjects with such subtlety and finesse as they mastered their skills and craft.
Oftentimes, street photography is a way to document the everyday life. The usual subjects are just passing by, fleeting and incongruent, apathetic even to the camera. It’s one of the things that make street photography stand out – it takes into consideration the natural environment of people, it puts people in a frame of time wherein they are completely immersed in what they do. Cityscapes are also captured in street photography. The landscape of the urban and maybe suburban area gives context to the photographs and the people (or absence of them) that animates the photograph.
More recent street photographers still come into close contact with the pioneers who started it all. There are now photographers who take to the streets to capture the human and time element in their photos. It’s a way to give a human face behind the story and invoke great emotions alongside the photographs. Chuck Jines and Rober Herman are a few of those street photographers who continue the legacy of this fleeting area of photography.
Jines creates a buzz about the social and political implications in his photos that show the grime and the grit of daily life for people battling different personal demons and states in their lives. Herman, on the other hand showcases the points-of-view rarely seen in such a densely populated city like New York, picking every unique angle and story piece by piece.
Street photography may not seem to be the most important and iconic in the world of photography but without it, there wouldn’t be a documentation of the lives we live. Sooner or probably later, the photographs shot on the street will prove to be more than just a glimpse of the everyday.
All information and photos used in this article were sourced from Mother Jones, Interview Magazine, Vintage Works, Eric Kim's site, United Photo Press World, Rober Doisneau Gallery, Shooting Film and Chuck Jines's site.