I have always enjoyed a spot of people watching, wondering what is going through a persons mind at that very moment in time. Its only in the last couple of years that I started to combine it with my love of photography into Street Photography.
Wikipedia defines “Street photography as photography that features the human condition within public places. Street photography does not necessitate the presence of a street or even the urban environment. Though people usually feature directly, street photography might be absent of people and can be an object or environment where the image projects a decidedly human character in facsimile or aesthetic.
Framing and timing can be key aspects of the craft with the aim of some street photography being to create images at a decisive or poignant moment. Street photography can focus on emotions displayed, thereby also recording people’s history from an emotional point of view. Similarly, Social documentary photographers document people and their behaviour in public places for the purpose of recording people’s history and other purposes; photojournalists work in public places, capturing newsworthy events, which may include people and property visible from public places; services like Google Street View also record the public place at a massive scale.
Much of what is regarded, stylistically and subjectively, as definitive street photography was made in the era spanning the end of the 19th century through to the late 1970s; a period which saw the emergence of portable cameras that enabled candid photography in public places.”
In my quest to learn more about Street Photography I did some research and came across a book called “Vivian Maier Street Photography” which I hastily purchased. It’s appeal to me in that it was from an unknown photographer Vivian Maier who had ‘done her thing’ without all the adulation and media hype that you seem to need to be a photographer of any standing these days. Also that Vivian had been snapping away during what could arguable have been the formative street photography years of the 1950’s & 1960’s.
The images in the book gave a brief snapshot into Vivian Maier who until relatively recently had been unknown. I liked the images but I was more intrigued with Vivian’s story which is evolving all the time as more images are discovered/developed. For my birthday in April I got a copy of the DVD “Finding Vivian Maier” which I only got to watch recently, wow!
“This intriguing documentary shuttles from New York to France to Chicago as it traces the life story of the late Vivian Maier, a career nanny whose previously unknown cache of 100,000 photographs has earned her a posthumous reputation as one of America’s most accomplished and insightful street photographers.”
It is no wonder that this film has won so many awards, to quote the Independent “A tantalising & utterly fascinating film”.
For me Vivian Maier is certainly synonymous with the term Street Photography. If you get a chance to see one of her exhibitions, watch the film or leaf though one of her glossy books your education into the art of Street Photography genre will be enhanced.
I for one will be keeping my eyes open as we discover more about Vivian Maier.
The question for me is, should you stop people in the street to capture their image or capture it ‘au naturel’ ?