Welcome followers and visitors to my blog and another update in my series ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Photography’.
In previous articles I have spoken frequently about the value of looking at and discussing not only ones own photographs; but, the works of other photographers’ works too.
The above image is one of my own photographs taken on a street walk about entitled “Distraction“.
This is the image I will be talking about today.
What is Street Photography?
Street Photography – Definition
Street Photography may be defined as;
a genre of photography that features subjects in candid situations featuring unmediated chance encounters and random incidents within public spaces. 
as not necessitating either the presence of any urban environ or any human presence within it. It can be of an object or environment where the image projects a decidedly human character in facsimile or aesthetic.[page needed]
as reflecting society as it manifests itself and non-manipulated where the subjects are unaware of the photographer’s presence. The photographer, in a sense, can be viewed as an extension of the flâneur – a casual street observer.
being ironic, amusing and be distanced from the subject matter. It frequently focuses upon a single human action captured at a decisive or poignant moment. The vocabulary of street photography is subtlety with no inherent premeditated message.
providing a very literal and extreme rendition of a subject and provide a more unfamiliar visceral experience beyond the personal experience of the viewer.
having the ability to document a particular scenario and defined by its very candidness.
as possessing extreme aloofness and impartiality in the nature of any particular activity, delivering a true depiction of that which is being observed.
Warner Marien, Mary (2012). 100 ideas that changed photography. London: Laurence King Publishing. p. 169. ISBN 978-1-85669-793-4.
Colin Westerbeck. Bystander: A History of Street Photography. 1st ed. Little, Brown and Company, 1994.
“Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 2015-04-22. Retrieved 2015-04-21.
The image is a photograph of a scene of a river walk with bars and restaurants taken in the early evening. Light levels were relatively low and fading but illuminated from the front with street lighting.
The image is a wide angled outdoor shot taken beside the river. The image possesses an excellent depth of field ensuring that the whole image remains clearly defined.
If one views the image from the bottom up I have attempted to use the rule of thirds to dictate how the image is laid out.
The three figures, the bar and menu board in the bottom foreground are positioned in the lower third third of the image, the middle third is taken up with the diners, the river, the barman and background city-scape and the top third is composed of the tree canopy on the left and centre and curlicued roofing on the right.
Similarly if one views the image from left frame to right frame the rule of thirds reinforces the images classical composition set up.
The two female figures in the foreground, the diners and roofing make up the right vertical third.
The middle vertical third is made up of the male figure in the foreground, the barman, river, city-scape, the defoliated tree canopy and sky define the middle third.
The last third to the left holds the menu board in the foreground the river, buildings and the green foliaged tree canopy.
The image is subdivided by a diagonal line that flows from the bottom left corner to the top right corner and accentuates approximately the division between the equally lightened and darker areas.
This is further intensified by the way in which the handrail in the middle left leads the eye behind the figure of the barman along the heads of the diners and continues to a vanishing point on the right hand side of the middle frame and made more intense by this counterpoint of light.
Compositionally there are similar leading lines that accentuate this division – the decking, the outer edge of the bench the walkway through the centre of the dining area and are again echoed in the tree trunks and umbrella poles – and lead the eye directly to that vanishing point.
These latter elements fragment and isolate the key individuals within their own pictorial space accentuation their own individual isolation and distractions
That which I find really interesting about this image is the manner in which the colours worn by the three main figures in the foreground are picked up withinthe composition and lead the eye into the heart of the image.
The green of the females cardigan is picked up in the foliage of the tress, the red dress of the female in the foreground, is echoed in the top of the post in the centre and the reds in the background, the white of the females blouse, the barman’s shirt, diner’s shirt tops through to the buildings, the clouds and the black clothing of the seated centrally placed male is picked up throughout the image.
These four contrasting colours not only provide a counterpoint to the overall blue hues but provide the image with a sense of rhythmic movement within the composition.
Though there are several subsidiary compositional elements that lead the eye in to the background the main focal point of the image are the three seated individuals in the immediate foreground and the central standing male figure their silhouettes defined by their distinct lighting, roles and more indistinct surroundings.
The composition demonstrates a very good balance between the light and dark areas of the image.
There is a scattering, in the background, of numerous subsidiary subjects across the whole image all contributing to and accentuating the main focus of the image the four key individuals that have been captured unawares within their own distractions and singular human actions captured at a poignant moment in time. The photographer becomes the flâneur by default.
A pleasing counterpoint is created through the use of contrasting light, colour and the human forms which are the main elements within the composition.
Both their individual positions within the composition and personal engagements lead the viewer’s eye towards the lighter blue hues of the background scenery of the urban-scape and sky and out of the much darker blue hues to be found in the background immediately behind them.
The trees, umbrellas, hand rail, bench, bar and restaurant roofs not only create textures but stand as static structures within the composition providing a sense of cohesion.
A strong sense of rhythm and movement are created by all these various elements as well as the curves of the roofs and the echoing of individual colours leading the eye to the point where they vanish from sight.
I trust that you find some of these ideas useful within the context of your own photography. Don’t be afraid to experiment and allow different ideas to develop as you go along.
Remember what I referred to in previous articles about taking photos and creating photograms; the same applies to considering your own photos, other photographers’ work as well as applying different artist’s ideas too.
Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Experiment! Experiment! Experiment!
Remember there are no right or wrong answers or ways of doing it.
Your photographs are your world.
You can do what you like.
Don’t worry about the theory and trying to remember everything about how to take or consider how to look at or stage a photograph.
Don’t worry about what you might think is right or wrong in talking about or taking photographs.
Make mistakes. Laugh. Have fun. Just enjoy the process.
Thank you for your visit.
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A brief moment shared Bound together in life’s ways Fleeting escapism
Susan Meiselas( 1948 -) is an American documentary photographer who lives and works in New York.
Meiselas is the author of Carnival Strippers (1976), Nicaragua (1981), Kurdistan: In the Shadow of History (1997), Pandora’s Box (2001), Encounters with the Dani (2003) Prince Street Girls (2016), A Room Of Their Own (2017) and Tar Beach (2020).
She has co-edited two published collections: El Salvador, Work of 30 Photographers (1983) and Chile from Within (1990), rereleased as an e-book in 2013, and also co-directed two films: Living at Risk (1985) and Pictures from a Revolution (1991) with Richard P. Rogers and Alfred Guzzetti.
Meiselas is well known for her documentation of human rights issues in Latin America. Her photographs are included in North American and international collections.
In 1992 she was made a MacArthur Fellow, received a Guggenheim Fellowship (2015), and most recently the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize (2019) and the first Women in Motion Award from Kering and the Rencontres d’Arles.
Mediations, a survey exhibition of her work from the 1970s to present was recently exhibited at the Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Jeu de Paume, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Instituto Moreira Salles in São Paulo.
Balanced proportions Taking a much closer look Unbelievable
Richard Kalvar, (1944 -) is an American photographer who has been a member of Magnum Photos since 1977.
Kalvar lives and works in Paris. From 1961 to 1965, Richard Kalvar worked in New York as an assistant to fashion photographer Jérôme Ducrot. It was an extended trip with a camera in Europe in 1966 that made him decide to become a photographer.
After two years in New York he settled in Paris and joined the first Vu photo agency, and then in 1972 he helped found the Viva agency. In 1975, he became an associate member of Magnum Photos, and a full member two years later.
Richard Kalvar’s photographs are marked by a strong aesthetic and thematic homogeneity. His images frequently play on a discrepancy between the banality of a real situation and a feeling of strangeness that emerges from a particular choice of timing and framing.
What results is a state of tension between different levels of interpretation, attenuated by a touch of irony.