Russ you obviously see much more in the pictures than I do.
You point out in a recent thread by John R Smith that images posted here are here for criticism? My criticism is - imo - valid in respect that two of the people are looking at the camera, intentionally or not therefore the posed comment is valid and detracts from what appears to be street photography. You state the third person is needed to balance the image. The out of focus face, half out and half in doesn't - imo - balance it. No balance needed if you crop it out and frame the other two more tightly. They without doubt are the picture which unfortunately is spoiled by the background. The good elements are overpowered by the distracting elements. A picture must be judged by all of what is there and not by some of it. A smaller aperture would possibly have the third person in focus. If something isn't adding to a picture then get rid of it. If you had posted the picture without the third person then I suspect nobody would have wished for it? Your ideas obviously differ from mine? As stated you have posted better.
I forgot to mention that the third image is - imo - a very good street image. Not as intrusive as the first posted but near enough to wonder what everybody is doing and talking about. One you can go back to a few times which means it has done it's job because you keep thinking about it?
Stamper, As I said when I started my first reply, your criticism was a fair criticism. We always criticize from a subjective point of view since there is
no other point of view. That's true even with criticism from people who advertise themselves as art critics. The difference between an "art critic" and a normal person is that the critic has "credentials" and can spout yards of BS to support his argument. But if you're a careful reader you can cut through the BS and get down to the real, subjective, argument.
Yes, the third image fits the street photography canon a lot closer than the first image, and I've included a cleaned up copy of it, along with a very similar one from the waterfront at Savannah, Georgia. Both of those are examples of classic street photography. A framed 17" x 22" print of the Savannah shot hangs on my studio wall.
It seems your main criticism of the first image is that two of the people are looking at the camera, so that makes the image something other than street photography. It seems posed to you. But make a run through the photography of HCB, the absolute king of street photography, and you'll find plenty of shots with people looking at the camera. If you look through the photography of Robert Doisneau, a very famous street photographer who was a contemporary of HCB, you'll find that a lot of his street shots actually were
posed. In fact his famous "Le Baiser de L'Hotel de Ville," was posed using a couple of professional actors. Brassai, another famous street photographer from the same era had to pose his night shots of Paris bars and brothels because his equipment was too slow to do it any other way.
But I'm not going to argue that the first picture is classic street photography. It's not. As I said, it's outside the street photography canon. I don't know how to assign it to a particular genre. It is what it is. I explained why the out-of-focus face has to be there to complete the scene. The fact that you find it objectionable makes me even more sure I was right. That's exactly what it's supposed to be: a fuzzy face with a callow expression, thrust into the picture, a face that emphasizes the mature beauty of the woman in the center. I wish I could have thrown the face and the background even farther out of focus, but the lens was set at f/8 and there wasn't time to change.
Now, all this makes it sound as if I realized all these things, took them carefully into consideration, and then made the shot. That's how landscape photography works, or at least it's how it ought to work, and that's one reason why people do landscape: it's relatively easy, if sometimes tedious. But that's not how street photography works. When you do street you don't plan the shot and act on your plan. Street photography is kind of like hand-to-hand combat: you see a situation all at once and you react. In effect, you go down the street mentally throwing frames around things, and when a framed collection of things makes sense you lift the camera and shoot. Things almost always are moving and shifting and changing, so you don't have time to do an Ansel Adams: get out a light meter, measure the zones, calculate your exposure taking into account how you plan to develop the film, and carefully compose the picture on the ground glass. On the street you lift the camera and go bang! As Cartier-Bresson said, sometimes you feel as if you really got something but when you look at the picture on the contact sheet (nowadays the monitor) you see where you failed. But once in a while you find you really did get what you were after. That's when it all becomes worthwhile.
The second image isn't really street photography at all, except I shot it from the street. It's abstraction, and whether or not you might like it depends on whether or not you're comfortable with abstraction. Bruce likes it and so do I. But it's okay not to like it.
Sorry to make this such a long rant, but from what I see and read here there seems to be a dearth of understanding about street photography. I guess that's understandable since we're on "Luminous Landscape." But often enough I see Michael doing good street work, so I guess it's okay to post street shots.
Incidentally, William started his critique with a salute to Jennifer's "Outside the State Library." I'd like to stand with him and salute. Jennifer's work often reminds me of Elliott Erwitt, and those two pictures could be included in a book of EE's pictures with nobody knowing the difference. The first one, especially, is based on the kind of humor that makes EE so delightful. That's real street photography.