Interesting Thread on Street, Homogeneity, Changing Landscape, Sharing, Etc.

agentlossing

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Jun 26, 2013
Messages
4,118
Real Name
Andrew Lossing
I only lurk at DPR anymore, and a lot of the time I'm there I am shaking my head at the absurdity of it all, but occasionally I find some interesting stuff. The below thread started off with a bit of a rant, but a well-intentioned one. I found a lot of the observations in the first few pages to be quite interesting, and to strike a chord with me based on a lot of the things I have been thinking about lately. I may pick out a few in particular to pose here for those that may be interested. It has to do with the changing landscape of cities, the explosion of interest in street photography and how it can be related to modern life compared to the more "picturesque" and rougher times of its heyday, and even some about sharing versus making pictures for oneself.

You can find it here.
 

agentlossing

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Jun 26, 2013
Messages
4,118
Real Name
Andrew Lossing
Old Ricoh User said:
For the life of me I have no idea who the hell would want to be labeled a "street photographer" today. All the good intentions of the descriptive term are long gone. At first it turned into an elitist activity where the snobby film people would look down on the low life digital camera user, use a non-prime lens was blasphemy, or you had to subscribe to some rhetorical nonsense as the "Decisive Moment". These cliquish and self proclaimed purists had minds as narrow as their perspective and in any visual art this type of thinking is very destructive. Things were about to change but not for the better.
About ten years after the turn of the 21st century when just about everyone owned a camera or a phone that had a camera the world of "street photography" changed again. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter were rocketing up in popularity and people wanted to be "Internet Famous", today it's called "Influencer". Something worse that the elitists happened, street photography became trendy, I mean TRENDY! Walk around any major thoroughfare in Manhattan and you would have to fight your way through hordes of new street photographers who were mostly in their 20s, all working the same corners trying to live out their Garry Winogrand fantasy. They changed gear every couple of months, usually to whatever their hero of the moment was using. They used the term "street photographer" as a badge of honor, a brand, a marketing term, a way to make that type of photography seem more involved that it really is. The trend began to wear thin when the began to figure out that they couldn't survive as a "street photographer". These fauxtographers weren't willing to make the very real sacrifices that artists have to make. The fantasy began to crumble when real life crept in. They were blinded by an overly P.C. ethics while trying to capture their so called version of real life and when in doubt make sure there's a big poster behind the scene to make it comical. Individual aesthetics didn't exist and it didn't need to because their own branded story was more important than what they were capturing. When the panic of failure appeared they began to take photos that they though the masses would like instead of taking photos for themselves. They became offended when they didn't receive massive social media likes and followers, many tried to buy them. In the end their vision was narrow and a lie.
The damage done by all this has rippled through the art world with galleries and museums reluctant to exhibit anything new. They are as confused as the rest of us who are looking at this with eyes wide open. Collectors have either stopped or greatly reduced their activity waiting for this quagmire to end. Non self-publishing of books has sloooowed with some resorting to only those with huge social media numbers with hopes their mostly fake followers will buy a copy. The genre has been decimated by a generation that sees no reason to own a print or book if they can look at it for free on a 5" phone screen. I seriously question the great importance of photography being restored in this century and all of this has me to the point where I want to strip the words "street photography" from everything related to me. For now on I have no problem being called, or considered a "snapshot photographer".
I am struggling with street photography myself, and find some of these observations to be spot on. It's a genre which grew out of the 20th century, and the way life was lived out on the street, the way structures were largely either old and run down, or else new and hubristic, the way human rights and human endeavors happened in real time. The aesthetic of either B&W or strong, saturated color all comes from the tech of the day. Nowadays, trying to create photographs which aren't just trying to reach backwards in a landscape which in increasingly less like the traditional one and more sterile is hard. I am trying to figure out where to go with it myself.
 

Bidkev

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Feb 5, 2018
Messages
4,111
Location
Brisbane Australia from Blackpool UK 23yrs ago
Thanks for that. I found it Interesting but have so far only managed 3 pages of the responders

I used to shoot a lot of "street" when I was younger but sadly lost most of my portfolio when it was shipped over to Oz. I was born in a holiday resort town that in summer was vibrant and exploded with different colours and characters, but which in winter, was depressing and threatening. Looking back, I dare say that no matter the time or the location, I never really had to look for subject matter and that 99% of my images just "presented themselves" and continued to hold interest for me years after.

Is it the times or is it simply that I now live in a more affluent and perhaps mediocre city? I've really struggled to find anything of real interest on the street since coming to Oz. I've continued to indulge myself (for want of a better word) and although at the time that I reviewed those recently taken images of my new location, they held some interest, looking back on my street portfolio since coming here, there seems to be nothing there now that still "hits me" IYKWIM? Having been here now for 25yrs I guess that could be indicative of my bad ability to find and portray decent subject matter ? :-( There just doesn't seem to be the same type of character around today as there was back in the 50's 60's 70's. By "character" I mean to the street/buildings/atmosphere as much as to the people.

Perhaps there's an element of "missing nostalgia" in that I don't relate as much to my adopted city as my town of birth? Perhaps it's just my age that nowadays has me "fearing to tread"..........to go where the "deserving of street" subjects tread? Have I simply lost my mojo? Does everyone really look exactly like each other as they go about their business? Are there still interesting characters/happenings out there that I am missing, or should I simply stop looking to avoid the disappointments? One thing I do know, and that is that despite the folk on the street appearing to be more affluent and happy as they go about their business, point a camera at them and they are more likely to give you a smack in the mouth as a friendly smile.

 

agentlossing

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Jun 26, 2013
Messages
4,118
Real Name
Andrew Lossing
Is it the times or is it simply that I now live in a more affluent and perhaps mediocre city? I've really struggled to find anything of real interest on the street since coming to Oz. I've continued to indulge myself (for want of a better word) and although at the time that I reviewed those recently taken images of my new location, they held some interest, looking back on my street portfolio since coming here, there seems to be nothing there now that still "hits me" IYKWIM? Having been here now for 25yrs I guess that could be indicative of my bad ability to find and portray decent subject matter ? :-( There just doesn't seem to be the same type of character around today as there was back in the 50's 60's 70's. By "character" I mean to the street/buildings/atmosphere as much as to the people.
That DPR thread also talks about that in relation to NYC, which has definitely undergone a huge shift in the past forty or so years toward a more gentrified, commercialized, expensive atmosphere - but conversely with less violent crime, drugs, prostitution... all the stuff that makes for sensational photography! NYC scenes plastered with Starbucks in the background just aren't as impressive, and people just don't seem to live "outside" or "out loud" as much as they used to. I don't live on the East Coast so I've only been to NYC once, but I was definitely a little disillusioned with the expectations vs reality of the street photography opportunities. However, it's not anything that's unique to that city. It's all over the place. It's what's making me question what I'm trying to do with street photography, and how to avoid just copy-pasting concepts that really only worked when the street was more vibrant and seedy and vital.

I too am veering much more into the snapshot aesthetic. I want to explore a less "meaningful" and more spontaneous and serendipitous kind of photography, and wonder if that might hold the key to a style that says about modern times what traditional street photography said about the 30's-70's. However, as one of the posters in the DPR thread said to the OP, I am also in danger of this:

Tungsten Nordstein said:
At what point do we say 'this is a snapshot' and not 'this is fine art photography with a snapshot aesthetic'?
 

Bidkev

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Feb 5, 2018
Messages
4,111
Location
Brisbane Australia from Blackpool UK 23yrs ago
I too am veering much more into the snapshot aesthetic. I want to explore a less "meaningful" and more spontaneous and serendipitous kind of photography, and wonder if that might hold the key to a style that says about modern times what traditional street photography said about the 30's-70's. However, as one of the posters in the DPR thread said to the OP, I am also in danger of this:
I've simply stopped asking questions of myself nowadays as to whether it's 'art" or "meaningful". If something grabs me, I take the shot. As I look at it later on the computer, if it still means the same to me as when I pressed that trigger, it goes into my portfolio. If it doesn't, no matter how well executed, it goes in the bin. I have shots that mean a lot to me that are technically crap, and many pin sharp images with subject matter at thirds have been resigned to the bin as I missed that "decisive moment." TBH, the way that I feel now about "street" I could happily cull 90% of my images and the only reason that I haven't got around to it, apart for time, is that, (likely I'm kidding myself), someone else might find some of them interesting.

This is one of my early digital favourites that could be labelled a "snapshot".

9258381727_656c3bafd2_o.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
Scream!!!!!! by Kevin Dickinson, on Flickr
 

agentlossing

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Jun 26, 2013
Messages
4,118
Real Name
Andrew Lossing
Folks are less friendly these days because a bad photo of them can suddenly be viewed by 100 million folks on the internet.
Leaving aside the idea of narcissism that that statement raises, doesn't it also say something about how share-happy we have gotten with photographs? The idea that you can't curate your audience, that anything is available to anyone, is a legitimate enough threat to the freedom to photograph.

Part of my snapshot aesthetic is the concept of the traditional snapshot, how it used to be shared with friends, family, placed into an album, and had a limited audience (and usually a curated one, people who knew the photographer and some of the mental process that went into the taking of the photo). I'm trying to work out how I could make that happen naturally in today's world.
 

Replytoken

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
May 7, 2012
Messages
3,540
Location
Puget Sound
Real Name
Ken
Part of my snapshot aesthetic is the concept of the traditional snapshot, how it used to be shared with friends, family, placed into an album, and had a limited audience (and usually a curated one, people who knew the photographer and some of the mental process that went into the taking of the photo). I'm trying to work out how I could make that happen naturally in today's world.
Set up a private blog. Send a link to an online folder. Is there any reason that solutions like these will not work?

--Ken
 

Replytoken

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
May 7, 2012
Messages
3,540
Location
Puget Sound
Real Name
Ken
Personally I'd like to see the web move backwards to what it was fifteen years ago. More quirky and surprising, and much less monetized. I miss it.
I just cannot stand having everybody control what people see with their algorithms and ads. If I want to follow certain people or sites, then that is all I want. I do not need somebody else deciding what I should see. This is why I like blogs. It is easy to offer people options for viewing, and there are options for viewers as well. WP is pretty reasonable about this. But yes, I agree, I would like to roll back the web a few years if I could.

--Ken
 

agentlossing

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Jun 26, 2013
Messages
4,118
Real Name
Andrew Lossing
Well, I feel like a big part of the problem is that I can't figure out where to go to find new good content like interesting blogs. Search engines all promote social media and the entrenched popular blogs and news sites. No one curates anymore. No good blogs have lists of other good blogs anymore. There's such a sea of bad content that it makes it really tough to find good content.
 

Replytoken

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
May 7, 2012
Messages
3,540
Location
Puget Sound
Real Name
Ken
No one curates anymore.
Yes, this is my biggest issue with the general direction of where the internet is heading. It doesn't have to be blogs. Everyone on every subject matter has free access to the web. That's fine, but without editors or some agreed upon standards, its the wild west. Quite frustrating.

--Ken
 

Thai-Mike

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Aug 2, 2016
Messages
2,698
Location
Thailand
Real Name
Michael
Well, I feel like a big part of the problem is that I can't figure out where to go to find new good content like interesting blogs.
Maybe create your own. I will sure subscribe. This mean from the bottom of my heart. Maybe like a mu43 blog where Member scan join and to some posting as well.
 

alex66

Mu-43 All-Pro
Joined
Jul 23, 2010
Messages
1,483
That was quite interesting, I think he is quite on the button with a lot of the so called influencer types a lot of their output can be quite lack lustre. Not sure about street photography as a genre, just think a lot of them try to badly copy past photographers subject matter without the empathy that some of them had for the subjects. The more interesting work I have seen recently has been Martin Parr's studies of the middle classes and a photographer whose name escapes me now who went around Kensington and similar photographing the very rich. This work to a large extent covers a group of people not covered photographically and has made some interesting work. I can get the guys desire to jump off the gear band wagon, having got to the point where gear from a couple of generations is plenty good enough but not sure why he would want to go for a camera that is really a pain in the ass to use. As for the snapshot aesthetic, I am a massive fan of it but have always been of the opinion that the most important photographs are the family ones especially when someone passes.
 

agentlossing

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Jun 26, 2013
Messages
4,118
Real Name
Andrew Lossing
Hardcore Street over on Flickr tends to try and find something new and unique in the genre (& no one really seems to care about the gear so much as the aesthetic). The critique threads are fairly brutal though.

https://www.flickr.com/groups/onthestreet/discuss/72157678662438992/
I've been following hardcore street on Flickr. Their chosen shots are super good, no doubt about that - but I'd disagree about new and unique. Their aesthetic is bold color, deep shadows and dramatic human interactions, all of which make for great street photographs, but I would say they're more traditional than new or unique. They're a great resource to define good modern street photographs made to a traditional aesthetic.
 

phigmov

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Apr 4, 2010
Messages
4,356
but I would say they're more traditional than new or unique. They're a great resource to define good modern street photographs made to a traditional aesthetic.
Agreed, I guess I meant they were trying to avoid common cliches (people staring at phones, beggars, homeless people, buskers, peoples backs, long-shots etc etc etc) within a genre which is bound by tradition. Common feedback boils down to 'get closer', 'get much much closer' - part of me wonders if there isn't a self-confident 'have no fear' element to this (which I don't have and don't really feel like cultivating) but I also appreciate that it makes for a much more immersive picture - you feel like you're standing right there in the photo.
 
Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Mu-43 is a fan site and not associated with Olympus, Panasonic, or other manufacturers mentioned on this site.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Copyright © 2009-2019 Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom