My Best Street (in my estimation)
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Re: My Best Street (in my estimation)Reply #4 on: September 22, 2022 at 9:51 am
By Russ Lewis
And so we come to the end of my favorite street photographs, a collection that spans nearly seventy years.
I became interested in photography in 1943, but I didn’t see it as a serious pursuit until ten years later when the Korean war ended and I had time to go downtown in Taegu and shoot pictures. I found that what interested me most was people: their interactions with each other and with their environment. That interest has never faded.
I shoot landscape, same as any photographer. After all, landscape is there. It stays still, lets you come back again and again until you have the light you prefer, and doesn’t complain if it catches you shooting its picture.
Old structures are another favorite, especially abandoned mining structures in Colorado. There’s a world of history, jubilation and pain in those old structures.
But it seems to me that street photography is what the camera really was invented for. It wasn’t, of course. The first cameras were infernal things that required you to compose upside-down under a hood. Exposures were long enough that a picture of someone blinking would show a blur instead of a blink.
But then Oskar Barnak invented the little hand camera that became the Leica, a camera that used movie film and had a relatively fast lens. At that point photography took on a new dimension. As Andre Kertesz, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Garry Winogrand and others demonstrated, the new camera could capture life as it’s actually being lived on and off the street.
Even with the tools we have today: ISOs that climb into the stratosphere and resolution beyond anything possible with film, only a vanishing few photographers do real street photography or even bother to learn what real “street photography” actually is. On the web you’ll see landscape after landscape after landscape; rarely anything else. There’s nothing wrong with landscape of course. Landscape can be lovely. But no landscape photographer can do what a really good painter is able to do: bypass problems with color relationships for instance and distort linear perspective for better effect. Yes you can approximate some of these things with Photoshop or Lightroom, but any experienced photographer can recognize the changes immediately.
Reality is reality, and that’s the reason the camera is such an effective tool for recording human behavior. Paintings such as Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party” were street photography’s predecessors. They’re beautiful and effective as an artist’s conception of reality, but they aren’t reality as it’s lived.
I sometimes hear arguments about why I shouldn’t do street photography. The most common complaint is that street photography interferes with people’s privacy. But someone in a public place has no expectation of privacy and United States law recognizes that fact. It’s shocking to think that nowadays Cartier-Bresson might be sued in France for publishing “Behind the Gare St. Lazare.”
Before street photography we had a world of relatively stiff, formal photographic depictions of human interaction, but never unposed images of life as it actually was lived. Nowadays we can show human behavior as it really is. No artistic genre is more important than that. No photographic genre is more consequential than street photography
ParticipantPosts: 5Re: My Best Street (in my estimation)Reply #5 on: November 13, 2022 at 8:18 am
Just a quick “hello” from South Africa!
I hope you are well?
Regards, William.Re: My Best Street (in my estimation)Reply #6 on: November 13, 2022 at 9:07 am
I’m good but bored. We moved into what I call an end-of-the-line apartment here in Leesburg, Florida. It’s very nice. Lovely, in fact, but full of old folks — including me as I near 93. Can’t get out and do street any longer. I’m pretty much confined to landscape and wildlife, which is okay but not my favorite thing.
I hope all is going well for you. I do still check LuLa from time to time.
- This reply was modified 2 weeks, 3 days ago by Russ Lewis.
ParticipantPosts: 5Re: My Best Street (in my estimation)Reply #7 on: November 14, 2022 at 3:52 am
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