How did he not fall off this bench?
One of my favorite neighborhoods to visit in San Francisco (and to photograph) is Chinatown. I still remember my first trip nearly 25 years ago — I couldn’t stop wandering the streets. Last week I spent an afternoon circling Portsmouth Square, a one block park in the heart of Chinatown that has significant history for both the city and state.
What caught my attention this time wasn’t the dozens (hundreds?) of Chinese huddled over cardboard boxes in groups playing Mahjong. It was the one person among this tight knit community who didn’t want to participate. Was he a rebel? Maybe he was bored? Or maybe he was just tired. But he literally feel asleep balancing on the edge of this park bench with his back to everyone else. I had to sneak into the bushes to get this angle of him but I love the results.
Have you been to Chinatown?
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How do you define street photography?
In their book “Street Photography Now” Sophie Howarth & Stephen McLaren state:
“A great street photograph must elicit more than a quick glance and moment of recognition from the viewer. A sense of mystery and intrigue should remain, and what is withheld is often as important as what is revealed.”
According to the Miami Street Photography Festival:
“Street photographers use their keen sense of observation to capture compelling candid moments in the everyday life of strangers, whether it be a gesture, facial expression, action or scene. Their method is often likened to a mirror held up to society…it reflects reality. There is no set-up involved, no manipulation of the scene and very little or no post-processing of the image. This realism has provided an accurate and insightful record of street culture throughout the world. With images portraying everything from the ugly, gritty side of life to more humorous situations, they are moments that unless captured, might otherwise go unnoticed.
At the heart of street photography is the ‘decisive moment’. This is the split second when an image becomes complete in its composition – when each element of the image is in balance, in context and essential to the scene. This is when the shutter is released and the moment is captured forever.”
What is a street photographer?
According to iN-PUBLIC (a street photography collective), a street photographer is someone who has: “… the ability to see the unusual in the everyday and to capture the moment. The pictures remind us that, if we let it, over-familiarity can make us blind to what’s really going on in the world around us.”
SP (another Street Photography collective) says that the street photographers “… capture un-posed moments, interpreting life around them and challenging our perceptions of the world.”
Wikipedia’s definition of street photography:
“Street photography is photography that features the human condition within public places and does not necessitate the presence of a street or even the urban environment. The subject of the photograph might be absent of people and can be an object or environment where the image projects a decidedly human character in facsimile or aesthetic.
Framing and timing are key aspects of the craft, with the aim of creating images at a decisive or poignant moment. Much of what is now widely regarded, stylistically and subjectively, as definitive street photography was made in the era spanning the end of the 19th Century through to the late 1970s; a period which saw the emergence of portable cameras. The portable camera enabled candid photography in public places became an issue of discussion. Street photographers create fine art photography (including street portraits) by capturing people in public places, often with a focus on emotions displayed, thereby also recording people’s history from an emotional point of view. Social documentary photographers operate in public places documenting people and their behavior in public places for recording people’s history and other purposes. Services like Google Street Viewalso record the public place at a massive scale. Photojournalists work in public places, capturing newsworthy events, which may include people and private property visible from public places.”
Encyclopedia Britanica’s definition of street photography:
“Street photography, a genre that records everyday life in a public place. The very publicness of the setting enables the photographer to take candid pictures of strangers, often without their knowledge. Street photographers do not necessarily have a social purpose in mind, but they prefer to isolate and capture moments which might otherwise go unnoticed.”
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