Strictly speaking, street photography doesn’t truly exist as a photographic genre. It is often an amalgam representing the intersection of distinct genres of photography such as documentary photography, portrait photography, photojournalism, urban landscape photography, and social activism photography. And despite its name, oftentimes it isn’t even applied in an urban context. But it is convenient to use the term “street photography” as a distinct genre when referring to a creative process of going out there and photographing the world around us in all its human energy and everyday forms.
I like to place my work under the broad thematic concept of “Street Beat”. The word beat possesses multiple meanings. Beat can refer to a regular scope – a territory and schedule – such as applied to a beat cop, for example. It applies aptly, I think, to the practice of getting out there regularly and photographing one’s “beat”, one’s “hunting grounds” or environs. On the other hand, beat can also refer to a rhythm, a tempo that, with the attention of a photographer or observer, can be clearly discerned in the world around us. This rhythm or tempo can also be felt within ourselves as creators, such as when artists get “into a groove” and loose themselves, which is an experience common to successful creatives.
At its most basic, photography can often be about the simple pleasure of composition – the perception, curation, and capturing of the arrangement of reality.
Here, the biker is bracketed by the street lamp above, her helmet echoing the shape of the lamp. Pigeons, spaced evenly across the street lamp, seem to depict the ticking of seconds as the intersection lights count down towards green, with a lone pigeon already cast off, free from the traffic rules and restrictions of its earthbound neighbors.
The perspective lines of the sidewalk and buildings draws the viewer inextricably inward towards the vanishing point. Even the limbs and bag of the pedestrian on the right seems to mirror the perspective lines as she moves forward and inward. However, the viewer’s pull is arrested by the affectionate couple walking outward in the opposite direction.
This composition encapsulates what the experience of street photography is often like for a photographer. Using a wide angle lens, you are so close to an individual that they often think you must be photographing something off in the distance, while another individual glares at you wondering why you are photographing them. In this case, the man in the foreground glances over his shoulder to see what is being photographed, leading your eye to the individual glancing out towards the viewer. When the viewer again looks toward the foreground individual again, a triangular circuit is formed that mirrors the triangular composition of the photo itself.
Looking at this photography of a beach, I notice it is segmented into four different zones or slices from the sky, to the water, to the sand, to the concrete pavement in the foreground. The interesting aspects of this photograph occur along the boundaries between zones or contained within them.