1. It's different today, vs. the nostalgia of the 60's, 70's and 80's.
The clothes were more formal but simple, even elegant for the average street person. There wasn't a logo every 20 ft. and black and white really works well with simplicity, tones and humanity.
I hate to say it but I find the photography from the past, way before I started to be so much more daring and trend setting, (for a better use of the phrase).
2. I had a brief period a few years ago where I wanted to try street photography. I bought a bunch of little 4/3 cameras and took my Leica M8 everywhere my wife who is my partner and producer went.
I shot a few things ok, but nothing spectacular, actually rarely turned them on.
3. Fine art alludes me and I applaud anyone that can do it, but I have to either give myself or have a client allow me to shoot with purpose.
4 My wife finally said, put those bloody cameras up cause you look like a tourist.
It's funny the only image I've ever placed in the fine art world was this one.
It was shot for an editorial an our printer in France wanted to enter it into an auction.
It sold for an surprisingly high amount which really shocked me.
Funnier still, since I shot it at the last second I just grabbed a 5d2 and had an assistant hand hold a 575 hmi.
Simple photograph, not worthy of these other examples, but it sold.
Excuse chopping up your post like above, but makes it easier for me to respond.
1. Be happy you didn't have to shoot in the early 50s: most girls dressed like their mothers, complete with girdles! (I state the bit about girdles based on what I was told.) It worries me thinking of the 60s as nostalgia: feels like yesterday, much closer to me than the 80s do! The 80s feel like a general mistake, a minor diversion off the main drag.
I think your appreciation of the vitality of earlier photography stems from the absence of Photoshop. I feel it very strongly too, and the problem is two-fold: almost nothing looks real now, and so it lacks the "wow, that's fantastic!" factor one could get about something that's basically real. Looking at Bailey/Shrimpton or Rubartelli/Verushka the stun came from knowing it was what they were doing together to make it happen as it looks, not what somebody was effing about with in another office somewhere. Not the same. As bad, I get the feeling everybody is now trying to be the same as everybody else, but just a further step into fantasy where possible.
(I realised just now that the two guys I mentioned are both pretty much around my own age. Says something personal about attitudes, I guess.)
2. " but I have to either give myself or have a client allow me to shoot with purpose."
I'm glad you wrote that; it mirrors something I have often expressed here too: the sense of need of assignment to make the whole thing feel both legitimate and worth the bother doing. Terence Donovan wrote the same in different words, to the effect that the most difficult thing for the amateur is to find a reason to take a photograph. Without assignment, even pros are faced with the very same difficulty uness it's something still work-related but slightly different, such as shooting for their own book.
I eventually got around it by realising that if I didn't get over that hurdle, I simply wouoldn't have anything else worth doing in life. I'm glad I did get beyond it, but it took years. It might be thought that for anyone as desperate to become a pro photographer as I was, there would always be motivation enough; not so: the original drive was clearly focussed, and once the possibilities of continuing along in that direction had vanished, there wasn't anything left but vacuum. If that's not a contradiction in terms.
4. Looking like a tourist.
Feeling like one is worse! I live in two (odd, but true) tiny towns: one, inland, is the original one where folks lived, safely enough away from the beach to have time to flee pirates (Barbary ones... nothing new there, then) and the other part of it, about eight klicks away, was where they kept the fishing boats, and is now the tourist resort: crowded in summer dead as a stone in winter, thought the current invasions of Lycrawheelies are upsetting that balance ěn recent times. So I live in one but spend most time in the other.
I suspect that for the first couple of decades spent here I was, to all practical purposes, invisible to the local folk except those from whom we bought the basic necessities of life, or whose restaurants we visited regularly. Then, when I started to shoot out in the streets just a few years ago, I suddenly became generally visible - an oddity. After a while it became obvious I was no loger a tourist and so I became pretty much invisible again - just another in the legion of foreign eccentrics such as painters etc. who live around here. Oddly, I never take my camera to the beaches in summer. I want to avoid people in, or partly in swimwear.
Not many tourists around here look like your model; the shot, dragging what looks like fur, reminds me of those old ETA animal rights campaigns... One that struck me was to the effect that it took several hundred minks to make one fur coat and just one silly bitch to wear it. My wife used to have one - don't know which breed of animal 'donated' pelt - but as the coat was a discard from my mother who had lost interest in it, I felt she couldn't be held accountable. She looked beautiful in it, and felt so delightfully cuddly out on a cold Scottish winter's day as we walked the pooch in the snow in the park. No wonder shooting personal photographs for 'fun' wasn't a priority in those years: work provided that photo-buzz.
Nice to see you crossing the tracks from the MF side of LuLa... please come visit more often!