By SnapSquad - May 03, 2020

It makes sense that you are probably expecting a definition to what Street Photography actually is; or perhaps you think that you have it already figured out: Street Photography” =  taking photos out in the street!. As much as I hate disappointing, in this particular post, however, I am going to do just that. Don’t worry, it’ll be pleasant (yes, that is possible!) as I also hope to entertain you with some flashback into history. So let go of your first impressions to find out more on the art of Street Photography.

Definition: an Anti-Climax?
It seems that it would be fair to think that street photographers take their art, well… to the street. Time, technology and simply human life-style have somehow made the street become too narrow as a canvass for an artist rendition of the marks people leave on the world. What was once a very much planned and posed photo session has evolved into quite the opposite: a very mobile and spontaneous activity. Street photographers have come to avoid poses, do not necessarily pick their subject in an actual street, and they, sometimes, even “act” indoors!
Street Photography has, in fact, become an umbrella term, and with that, more of a golf umbrella than a small lady’s one. Under the umbrella, the street had to make room for a much wider choice of public places where life leaves its print. Street Photography still finds its subjects in a traditional urban environment but it sometimes crosses the line to other landscapes. 
What about people then? After all the genre started as posed portraits that were taken in what used to be the most public place of all: the street. It was only a matter of time and technology advancement before photographers became physically free to move around and became interested in candid shots of daily life around them.                                                                                                                       
There is no rule to say that there must be humans featured in a street photograph, yet the intention is always to capture the influence of man where he lives; it has to be relatable to humans. I personally see Street Photography as the art to capture what is always in front of our eyes, the present of humankind playing itself as the sum of its past while it already bears on the future. Like for some good wines too, some photos will gain much interest and value as they mature. Beyond all this though, Street Photography is an amazing aesthetic rendition of what we, humans are about; It is life photography.

In days when art photography was still a very new, back at the beginning of the 20th century, photoshoots happened in the street. We all take electricity for granted as we do lights in the home and photographers their precious flashlights but all these did not exist then and for a long time. Photography had to be taken outdoors for a basic technical reason: lighting. 
Cameras then were very large and heavy, they often needed the support of a tripod and the photographer would also have to carry a number of plates. In order to practice their art and make it to their photo-shoot appointment, they had to carry their equipment there, set it up and position it before they could start taking shots of their models. Spontaneity was not an option, and models were required to sit or stand a very still, stiff, rigid pose.
With cameras becoming lighter and easily portable, photographers gained more agility and with the advance of technology, posing became no longer necessary; instead then, with the ability to take pictures on the go, spontaneity became the norm and catching candid yet realistic shots a new facet of the art of Street Photography.                                                                                        
It did not take very long for Street Photography to become the fastest means to give the printed press what it needed to publish major news events. Sadly, it was during the first world war and later WW2 that the art of capturing life in the street transformed into documentary photography, immortalising dramatic and historical moments. At any time though, and in any circumstance, the street photographer remains not a mere observer (a reporter?), but an artist who goes out to capture the things life is about.

A Common Denominator
Street Photography reaches many corners of what human life can be about. The presence of man and its consequences can be caught where he goes, and Street Photography happens down the lane, on the harbour pier, inside the local train station or even in the park. Because of the wide range and variety of subjects it covers, from architecture to portraiture in a long list of interests, the definition of Street Photography may certainly vary from one person to another; it can even be quite simply confusing but let’s not forget what has remained the common denominator, that the presence of people must be felt in the picture, even when they do not appear physically. Street Photography has undeniably changed in its forms, but the essence has remained: it is a document of human life.

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