Still trying to get my head back into blogging again. Wrote one post, deleted it, wrote another about the Fuji X100 which is still up, so this is the third but really the second… sort of. Following up to now?
So, what to talk about?
‘Why don’t you talk about Street-Photography?’
‘Erm, OK, why not.’
There was a time when I used to think of myself as a street-photographer, not so much anymore. The thing about street-photography is it is a hard genre to nail down – What is street-photography anyway? Candid shots of people on the street? Urban Landscapes? Building shots? Random shots of obscure objects (veg on a market stall, a plastic giraffe in a waste-bin?), or is it just anything that isn’t shot inside a studio.
Perhaps is it all these things or none of them. Ask ten different people and you will probably get ten different answers.
I think the problem with street-photography is that word – street. It kind of ties it down a bit, puts the genre in a straight-jacket and seems to say that unless you are actually stood on the street when you pressed the shutter then it is not street-photography. But what else can you call it? I still use the term although I am never that comfortable about it, I don’t think it applies to me that much, I am not a street-photographer in the true sense of the word is what I mean, in the way that most people perceive it to be. I take shots of varied things, rural landscapes, occasional portraits, standard street-shots, random objects and everything in-between, so what does that make me?
How do I see myself? Documentary-photographer? Maybe. Life-photographer? Possibly. I kind of like the term that fellow blogger Wouter Bransdma uses – stroll-photographer. It kind of sums up what it is that I do, I pick up my camera and go for a stroll, it doesn’t have to be on the street, it could be anywhere, indoors or outdoors, the shots could be of anything. It seems a more broad and loose term, more fitting somehow. I think it was Garry Winogrand who said that he hated the term street-photography. He said that it – Doesn’t tell you anything about the photographer or their work. Fair point I guess. And Instagramer Sean Lotman recently said that to him street-photography was more of a vibe, a feeling, rather than a laid down set of rules, whereas YouTuber Take Kayo (BigHeadTaco) said it is simply capturing the essence of humanity within an urban environment.
It seems that pretty much everyone has their own view on it. Personally, I think about this because at the beginning my work was mainly the staples of street-photography, candid shots of people on the street for the most part, it is how most people start out, some continue to do just that and there is nothing wrong with that, although I don’t think it’s my forte. My outlook has changed quite a bit over the years, becoming more wide-ranging, it is still changing and this is why I have a problem with calling myself a street-photographer, although simply being called a photographer instead seems a rather vague title.
Maybe there needs to be another term, a term that is more encompassing somehow, maybe something like FREEGEN-PHOTOGRAPHY as in (free-genre), or more simply FREE-PHOTOGRAPHY. A type of photography where you are free to do whatever you please, without any preconceived criteria of whether whatever you are shooting fits. You want to take a pre-arranged portrait which just happens to be shot outside (ie: not candid) – fine, you want to photography a tree – fine also, you feel like shooting some landscapes off the side of a boat – great. Then the next day you can go shoot straight street, it’s all good, it’s free, there are no parameters, shoot what inspires.
Works for me.