Saturday, July 28, 2007

Is it street?

It's interesting to try and define it, but I think ultimately trying to define it is futile, because the one thing that makes the genre so interesting is its ambiguity. I think it's tough to define the genre with words. In doing so one usually distills down to defining the concepts of spontaneity and reality. It might be easier to define the genre photographically, as in "yes that is" and "no that isn't". Maybe then you can begin to deconstruct it and define it, but eventually you'll run up against the fuzzy ambiguous edges, the “could be” images, and really I think that's where things get interesting. I think the really interesting images push at those edges and cross and encroach on those "lines," which is what makes the genre so attractive.

If you want to study classic street photography [B]elements[/B] I recommend one of my favorites, Robert Doisneau. I think he captures what most of us would unequivocably define as street photography. Oddly enough a *lot* of his images are constructed or posed, designed to look "spontaneous." The elements of what a lot of folks would call street photography are all there, under his control, in his very clever compositions. At first viewing you would probably call his images "street," because they are so real and spontaneous. It can often take several close viewings to get past the artifice. Is it really street? Does it really matter? Ultimately it boils down to what Picasso said, "Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth.“