A Note On Street Photography

The genre of Street Photography has had quite a resurgence in the past few years. There is a small group of members of the Soho Photo cooperative who are meeting and planning a show sometime next year on street photography. In a recent conversation about this with my fellow Soho Photo members we tried to define what exactly street photography is and how did it differ from other genres such as photojournalism. Needless to say it was a long discussion and I am not going to recap it here but I recently came across a quote from the photojournalist Susan Meiselas that shed some light on our discussion.

“Early one morning, near my home and on my way someplace else, I crossed paths with Santa Claus. Now, I don’t usually make surrealistic images. Another photogrpapher might have done that. And if I were a street photographer, I might have made a humorous photograph of the Santa Claus surrounded by other people in their work clothes, on the subway or in the street, and left it at that. But I wanted to know who this guy was. Where did he come from? Why was he in my neighborhood?”

That summed it up pretty well. As a street photographer I am interested solely in creating little 2 dimensional worlds. A new thing.  I don’t really care why this person or that person was in a particular place at a particular time and crossed my path and came in to my viewfinder. But for a photojournalist the question of why is paramount.

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