Are they "street photographs" or are they portraits taken on the street?

Claire remarked a few days ago that she likes my portrait work but has never really warmed up to my street photography. And I thought about that for quite a while. Then I started thinking about images like the two above. Are they portraits or are they some form of street photography? Both were spontaneous and neither was set up in the sense that I posed them or directed them in any way. So, what would you consider them?

And while everyone's taste in street photography is different I do like these (below) for various reasons.
I wanted to share them again today.....


  1. I respectfully, but greatly, disagree with Claire. Many of your street photographs are portraits, but not all. But I have yet to see one that I didn't like.

    I think most of the best street photographs are in some sense portraits.

  2. Replies
    1. Claire is one of our regular readers and offers good feedback to me on a consistent basis.

  3. Environmental portraiture... Spontaneous portraits? That first one of the girl is superb, it reminds me of every fleeting glance from a pretty girl and the butterflies they set forth when I was single. A magical picture.

    Some of the others are very compelling, but one couldn't label them portraits in quite the same way... What is our obsession with labeling?

  4. Kirk first off I'm a very honored and slighty humbled that my comment made you reflect on your work. Secondly, I like most of the shots in this post, because, street or not, they involve humans and hint at a story. My favorites are definitely those where the subjects face the camera and engage with the photographer with eye contact, along with the man on the phone, and the wedding kids. This only goes to confirm my opinion that your swith is rapport, and your best work done in engagement.
    Thanks for considering my voice. Ability to process constructive criticism is yet another proof of greatness.

  5. Not so long ago I've read an article saying that street photography is something that contains at least two of the three elements of Timing, Framing and Meaning, and is not restricted solely to shots containing the human element. For me, this is quite accurate. And yours ARE street photos IMHO...

  6. Hi Kirk,

    I never had an interest in doing street photography in the past. Then, I read your blog. There is one of your old articles in which you tell stories about the man holding a cup of coffee. That gave me a reason to try street photography.

    Greetings from Indonesia

  7. These pictures remind me of Saul Leiter's Early Color, sans color, but close and personal.


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