There's something strange about wanting people to do something other than that which they choose to do; unless there is a commission involved, then do whatever turns you on. Some commissions even allow that.
Reference to photography of places like Paris by people working between the wars or just after WW2 is spurious: if one cares to read interviews with the likes of Doisneau, Ronis, HC-B et al. then it becomes clear that what happened then, what was permissible and possible in those years is gone forever; at best, today such attempts at people hunting will earn one a swift kick in the ass if not a bunch of fives. And why not? It's intrusion, colour it how you will; a camera in the hand gives no devine authority of use, however much such power might be craved.
Most of the photography of the type in question, which was shot in those early days, was for left-wing publications - does anyone think there was no political agenda, no axe to grind, that it was all some cosy artistic endeavour? Poverty and the exotically 'downtrodden' masses predominate in those photographs because it suited the publishers to depict such material. One could have shot something very similar in '50s Glasgow - indeed, some did - but there was bugger-all pleasant in the experience being pictured - different accents and languages but the same squalor. Funny how now we see it as quaint and, somehow, romantic.
There is certainly merit to the idea of documentation of now for the future. But that is a different animal, one that requires a specific agenda which is not necessarily to do with creating artistic documents in the manner of fine prints. I'd suggest that most of the pictures which people produce when without a paypacket at the end of the exercise are shot with the 'pretty picture' ethic somewhere at the back of the mind. There's nothing wrong with that. For some people it results in exactly what they had chased, for others it ends in disappointment; either way, it's always been their call. Frankly, documentation by the likes of the people I mentioned earlier on might have been more manipulated than today's somewhat brain-washed viewer likes to believe; was it art? Did the photographer really believe he was producing 'art'? Did such an idea ever cross his mind, I wonder.
Ciao - Rob C