Luminous Landscape Forum

The Art of Photography => Street Showcase => Topic started by: RSL on April 28, 2019, 09:41:24 am

Title: A Collection of Street Photography
Post by: RSL on April 28, 2019, 09:41:24 am
I pulled together a bunch of my street shots, going all the way back to Korea in 1953. You can see it at
Title: Re: A Collection of Street Photography
Post by: 32BT on April 28, 2019, 12:21:38 pm
Bus Rider 2 is da bomb! Why haven't you posted that one previously? (Or did i miss the posting?)
Title: Re: A Collection of Street Photography
Post by: RSL on April 28, 2019, 01:04:16 pm
Hi Oscar, There’s a lot of stuff I haven’t posted. My Lightroom catalog says I have more than 23,000 pictures, and those are the ones that have survived my first, and often my second, cull.

Actually, my street photographs have been scattered between two web sites and several subsets. I finally decided it was time to bring them together in one place. The duplicates are still out there in various places in my two webs.

I guess that what forced me to get the street stuff together was finally deciding I needed to see what Magnum’s “course” on street photography had to say. It’s not much of a “course,” but it has some really competent people explaining what I’ve been explaining about street photography for decades. Most of it is right there in my essay that LuLa printed on the subject a little over three years ago:

A few of the points Magnum folks reiterated for me: (1) Good street photography is more like poetry than like photojournalism. (2) Photography that treats people as objects isn’t effective street photography. (3) “Street” is an unfortunate name for a genre that shows relationships between people, other people, and their surroundings. (4) Street photography is damn difficult. You’ll shoot a vast number of bloopers, a smaller number of not too bad shots, and a vanishingly small number of pictures upon which you’d hang your reputation. (5) Ambiguity is an important part of good street photography. (6) The most important skill in street photography is the ability to look and see – quickly. These are just a few of the points I’ve made and Magnum has echoed in their course.

One interesting fallout from the Magnum course is that I have a much higher regard for Bruce Gilden than I had before I went through the course. For the most part I still think his pictures stink, but I think he’s a pretty good guy.
Title: Re: A Collection of Street Photography
Post by: GreggP on April 28, 2019, 05:58:12 pm
I've been thinking about taking the Magnum course. Do you think it's worth it???

BTW, nice collection!
Title: Re: A Collection of Street Photography
Post by: RSL on April 29, 2019, 09:36:41 am
Hi Gregg,

I don’t know whether or not it’s “worth it.” One thing’s for sure: you’re not going to learn to do street photography from a “course.” You have to get out there and do it and do it and do it until it becomes second-nature to lift the camera and go click when you see something that interests you as you’re walking around with a camera looking for something that interests you. As the people in the course reiterate: the vast majority of your attempts will be failures, but that one extremely rare success makes up for all the failures.

One problem I have with the course is that a very fine photographer like Peter van Agtmael seems to believe that if you get a bunch of kids together and get them bouncing around as you photograph them, and as they know you’re photographing them, that’s street photography. Bruce Gilden believes that if he walks down the streets of New York City and pushes a flash into the faces of passers-by, that’s street photography. Some of the people who’d disagree are Henri Cartier-Bresson, Willy Ronis, Walker Evans, Elliott Erwitt, Garry Winogrand, Robert Frank, to name just a tiny fraction of the people who defined the badly named genre of street photography.

To me, and I think the founders of the genre would agree, the function of street photography is to show human interactions with other humans and with the peculiar environments in which they live, undisturbed by the photographer. As soon as your subject becomes aware he’s being photographed he can’t avoid taking that fact into account, and behaving accordingly. Now you’re not shooting a subject in his natural state, you’re shooting a subject who’s being hassled by a photographer.

Which is not to say there isn’t worthwhile stuff in this “course.” To the contrary, it’s very worthwhile to see and hear these excellent photographers discuss what they do. Richard Kalvar’s approach comes closest to mine. For the most part he doesn’t believe in “engaging” with the subject, meaning asking “Is it all right if I take your picture?” He also believes in using a prime lens, because you know where the boundaries are with that lens. He also says that street photography is more like poetry than like photojournalism because it attacks on the emotional level. On the downside there’s Mark Power, a very excellent photographer who believes Atget did street photography, and who thinks he’s doing street photography with a view camera on a tripod. Atget did fantastic work, and the world would be a poorer place if his work disappeared, but real street photography wasn’t even possible until the advent of Oskar Barnack’s Leica in 1925.

So I can’t tell you whether or not the course is “worth it,” but I can tell you it’s a very enjoyable and often enlightening set of film clips and documents.
Title: Re: A Collection of Street Photography
Post by: Rajan Parrikar on May 01, 2019, 08:32:12 am

Outstanding work in your link. (What happened to you now? - just kiddin')

Title: Re: A Collection of Street Photography
Post by: RSL on May 01, 2019, 09:57:58 am
Thanks, Rajan. I'm still here, 66 years after that first picture.