Is it time to cede street photography and social photography to the cellphone world?

All material ©2014 Kirk Tuck and presented exclusively at www.visualsciencelab.blogspot.dom  If you are reading this on another site, without proper attribution it is not an authorized use of the material. If you are reading this on unauthorized site DO NOT CLICK on any links in the body copy as it may infect your computer with serious viruses. Sorry to have to put this warning here but a recent search turned up dozens of similar infringements. Thanks for your authentic readership. 

©2014 Kirk Tuck

I'd vote "yes." Some wag yesterday left a comment that I dismissed out of hand. He (or she) mused that the images I'd posted were 'no better than what I could get from a phone' and in retrospect I have to agree. I had a new camera in my hand and I did what most other photographers do. I went out on a gray and featureless day and snapped images, behind which there was no real thought or emotional buy in, and I put them up on the web and waved my arms around and said "look, look, more images!" As though what I'd done was special and unique. Only it wasn't.

I had a public relations assignment yesterday that started at 10pm. The event wrapped around two in the morning and I was sitting in the studio until 4 am post processing and uploading to deliver before my client got up for breakfast. And this morning I woke from a banal dream in which line of people queued up outside a series of downtown buildings, endlessly. When I woke up I was overwhelmed with the thought that, for me, street photography is over. Just over.

When I first started taking images so many years ago cultures were much more diverse. There were national differences, regional differences, even marked differences between cities. Now we've succeeded in homogenizing existence nearly throughout the affluent world (none of this article has anything to do with countries with emerging or submerging economies...). We all have cameras, we all have hot coffee and more and more we all look and act more or less the same. Our downtown was once a slightly nervous assemblage of ancient (in Texas time) two and three story buildings. Some abandoned and many repurposed. Now it's a more of less uniform collection of really boring high rise buildings that house either affluent urban dwellers, international chain hotels or national banks. The fun, local taco joints and burger havens are now, mostly, national chains. Our small but inspired music festival, SXSW (which in early years seemed like a unique and amazing boutique) is now a bland and metastasizing shopping mall of largely disconnected fare for an audience that sees itself as a group of hardy trendsetter but in reality are just mid market shoppers for a belief affirming quasi-experience.

Photographers used to show what was unique. Now they seem to revel in revealing what is largely the same. Even the styles and approaches are totally commoditized. Including mine. I'm more or less decided not to continue in that vein. Not to roam the streets as an amalgamation of current photographers.

Adding to the mass of disconnected and disaffected images is part of the overall problem with the field today. We've all run around naked at the Burning Man of Imaging and we've been to the Mall of the Americas Photography experience and what it's done is give the impression that the output of these non-challenging excursion is, de facto, acceptable and positive photography. But it's not and it's a distraction from really finding and holding onto a voice.

From my observations and a certain glancing self-awareness I've decided that most photography as practiced today is just like the last century habit of cigarette smoking. When one is bored, uncomfortable, lost one grabs a camera of the day and heads out into the streets and mindless clicks the shutter at another empty shot of a textured wall until one's legs are tired and the schedule of the day pushes on toward dinner. I shoot empty street scenes. Ming Thein photographs angular furniture and crispy buildings. Andy shoots reflections of neon bouncing off rain soaked streets. We all do it. It's a reflexive behavior no matter how strong the rationalization behind it.

We are mimicking the the people who shot before us during a time when culture, the world and civilization was in a cathartic shift. It was the inception of homogenization and I think photographers everywhere were consciously or unconsciously aware that a blending was coming. Old buildings torn down and replaced with efficient and boring ones. Clothing mass produced and similar even across national borders. Those photographers rushed to capture what was disappearing forever. They rushed to document the hand work craftspeople. They rushed to document cultural islands. They rushed to document politicians who had not yet learned to hide behind phalanxes of PR professionals, canned speeches, and carefully studied steadiness. And they made these documentations because nobody else was doing it. They felt they were saving history.

But the ubiquity of the cellphone camera and the cigarette smoking analogy of compulsive hobby-ism means that pretty much everything is documented all the time. And if the real story today is the homogenization and banal-ization of the creature comfort world then how do artists step back and document that in a way wherein the shot of a marshmallow is more than just another shot of a puffy, white confection?

I walk out into the streets these days and I see oceans of people, mostly dress in dark grays and blacks, walking with their heads down. Staring at the bluish screens of their cellphones and other devices while juggling cups of hot coffee in the other hand. Men, women, children. All in the same posture. All with the same accoutrement.

I give up. Next time out there will be no Sony or Samsung or Panasonic or Pentax in my hand. And no Apple camera either. I'll go out because I have somewhere to be or someone to see. Not because I'm jonesing for another dose of random and unstructured button pushing.

I agree with the commenter. All I was doing was adding to the stack. And not very well.

I love shooting portraits. The mindless street work is a resistance to the effort of getting people into the studio or into a formal setting for portraits. The street work is the barrier or rationale for not getting substantive work done. I think it's something we all need to consider...

Reader Notes:

We'll be slowing down the blog for the next few weeks. I've been booked on several large (for me) video projects that will take up a huge chunk of my time. There's shooting to be done and editing and all those approval stages. Interspersed are substantial photography projects that will keep me moving until April.

On the camera front I will admit to hitting a wall. There's very little that interests me on the market right now. I've played with some of the "hot" new cameras and found them to be little more than warmed over designs from yesteryear. I'm predicting an interesting backlash that I think will happen as a result of the glut of new, cheap, small cameras: I think we'll start going back and reassessing watermark classics from three, six and eight years ago and re-evaluating where we've been and what we've really gained from the march of progress. I see a run on Nikon D3's, D700's and D300 bodies. Likewise a run on Canon 5D2's, 1DSmk2's and 3's. As well as renewed interest in cult-y cameras like the Fuji S5 and similar beasts. What did we lose and what (if anything, really) have we gained?

I was at a press event last night. Almost every media slot around the celebrity was filled by someone shooting video. Not photographs but video. All but two of the camera operators were using a DSLR on a monopod with a Rode mic shoved into the hot shoe. The PBS shooter had an older, traditional video camera on a tripod. One younger shooter had a Canon C100 on an ersatz rig. Everyone else was sporting handheld Canons and Nikons and had their faces scrunched into Zacuto or off brand LCD Loupes. I was the sole traditional photographer in a group of twenty.

Usually a venue like the one I worked might have a photographer snapping images of guests with the celebrity standing in front of a screened background covered with logos. Oh yes, there was a step and repeat background last night and a (of the moment) celebrity. But no traditional photographer. Instead
there were 500 people waiting in line to do "selfies" with the celeb or waiting to hand off their phone to a friend or fellow traveler in order to have an immediate image, on their own phone, to share and, well....share. Made sense to me. It just takes a looooong time for some of those folks to line up a shot and finally find the "shutter" button.

All material ©2014 Kirk Tuck and presented exclusively at www.visualsciencelab.blogspot.dom  If you are reading this on another site, without proper attribution it is not an authorized use of the material. If you are reading this on unauthorized site DO NOT CLICK on any links in the body copy as it may infect your computer with serious viruses. Sorry to have to put this warning here but a recent search turned up dozens of similar infringements. Thanks for your authentic readership. 


John Krumm said...

Yes, and you could have taken those photos with a 7 megapixel Canon Elph, an Olympus E1, a D800E, a 645D, or a Holga. The web is a bit of a great equalizer, a squasher of greatness, an elevator of mediocrity. And snaps are snaps, big deal. Pointing out the obvious is another great internet specialty. See you in a few weeks.

shooter said...

As always Kirk you hit the nail on the head with this post, I have had the same conversations with friends regarding the whole genre of picture taking.

If I had a wish it would be to travel back in time and enjoy the freshness that abounded in the time of Capa, Bresson et al. Here in the UK most shopping outlets are a corporate design which would give the viewer no clue as to where they actually are should they be dropped blindfolded into one of them.

The camera phone element has really been a huge uploading event and reinforces my belief that the images will never be seen as a print. This kind of makes as you well know the issue of the shrine of megapixel more or less redundant, what size do you need for Facebook, whats app and snapchat to name but three.

Your posts as always are more then the image, you have an insightful mind and have a definite talent for the written word, so do please keep on posting.

Nikhil Ramkarran said...

The internet tends to favour (as you might expect from demographics) North American or European photographers and perspectives. If you look further afield, not only to different parts of the world, but also the photographers local to those places, there are often interesting things to be seen.

I'm not suggesting my photos are an example of that, but the people are different from what you might ordinarily see (a few are taken with mobile phones :)


Frank Grygier said...

I have to agree. Somehow I believed that there would be art in the streets.Some interesting face or character willing to be a subject is difficult to find when their heads are down staring at the blue little screen.

Phil Brown said...

You led a photowalk a few years ago in San Antonio, when I was learning my first DSLR, and it was an incredible experience for me. I understand where you're coming from because every image I shoot feels like it's been done before by someone else, someone better. I guess every established shooter feels the same way now.

I hate to see your discouragement but I get it, even as a relative novice. But I do hope you can continue to find a way to mentor and break through the clutter and haze for those of us who do care greatly about what you've done and what we might yet be able to do. Surely there are still great shots to be taken out there.

Those of us who keep up with the industry/trade/craft/art of photography know the doom that is on our minds. I guess we can't really shake that. But I'm just not ready to give up yet.

Action Comics once ran a story imagining a world that no longer needed Superman, and he eventually lost his powers and hid from sight. Then one day, someone did need him, and his powers came back, and he wound up leaving Earth for a world that "still needs a Superman."

OK, that's a bit over the top. Maybe Obi-Wan Kenobi ... ? Hmmm.

Anyway, I hope you'll find a way to stay relevant to yourself and keep inspiring little guys like me.

typingtalker said...

Kirk wrote, "Everyone else was sporting handheld Canons and Nikons and had their faces scrunched into Zacuto or off brand LCD Loupes."

How much easier would that be with an EVF?

Andre said...

Kirk, do you read Smogranch? Give it a try. It sounds like maybe you've burned out a bit, and may need a different perspective on the same stuff. Daniel Milnor addresses roughly the same idea from a different angle here: http://www.smogranch.com/2014/03/07/master-of-none-its-not-your-fault/

The thing that makes me take his opinion seriously is that he produces some seriously beautiful images. Unfortunately, that is my knee-jerk reaction these days. If a photographer's images are no good, then I don't even bother to read what they have to say.

Ian Kirk said...

I agree with your thoughts on older "classic" DSLR's. I have been looking at Nikon D2Xand D300 recently and realising you can get a lot of camera for not a lot of money.

theaterculture said...

Great perspective, Kirk. Seems like maybe what we're living through is an exhaustion of one pole of the photographic arts - with digital sensors proliferating everywhere and in the hands of almost everyone, the photographer as a heroic capturer of reality doesn't seem to have huge cultural resonance at the moment because it's so common. Maybe what will flourish now will be photography that makes a new reality: a lot of the current still-photographic work that currently strikes me as most fresh and vital seems to involve staging moments that refer to, reenact, or tweak the look of narrative painting or the cinematic still; certainly the "capture vs. create" debate has washed back and forth across visual aesthetics a number of times. Your thoughts about a return to a particular kind of portraiture seem apt to me in this regard.

Funny, though, how Cindy Sherman seems to have gotten there so far ahead of the rest of the world...I guess that's what avant-garde means, huh?

Racecar said...

There is an art to the "grab shot." It has to do with capturing a notable moment in time. Your shots of the Eeyore Festival are an example of this. This carnival of colourful and unique individuals only occurs in Austin, Texas once a year. Not everyone can attend, so your images give as a glimpse of an unusual time, place and event that is informative and fun. To me it is, in fact, art.

Robert Roaldi said...

Perhaps the empty photography that you describe is simply an inevitable reflection of an empty culture. A lot of the things you decry in this posting are the results of "corporatization" (I don't know if that's a word, but it should be). Once the suits take over, even rebellion becomes a commodity, with a jingle. It's sad, but you know it doesn't have to be this way. We created this culture, so we can change it, nobody owns it.

But specifically about those videos that everyone is making, instead of taking photographs. Is anyone watching them?

DrMickey said...

You're getting moody again. Time to challenge yourself, not to give up "adding to the stack".
Yeah, we all take run-of-the-mill shots. But photowalks are what you say you enjoy. So photowalk and chronicle the now-and-then obvious and the sometimes banal. And stop and have coffee with friends. And enjoy the keepers from the stack just like we do.

Chris Pattison said...

You sound like Jean Baudrillard. I think street photography is in good shape. Perhaps you are just looking in the wrong place.

Michael Robbins said...

i just love that portrait. words schmurds

STA said...

All of what you say is factually true. But be careful with labels like "street photography"; I know you used it to make a point and to that end it is appropriate. Also be careful of the unintended constraints under the rubrics of "style" and "personal voice."
None of it prevents you from walking slowly, staying open and taking pictures of interesting things.

Some people may call that "street" or "candid" or, when there is collaboration between artist and subject "portraiture." They might be factually right.


Julian said...

Kirk, I completely agree with you. I hope that as you "return" to your portraits you'll share what and how you think about them.
Sometimes I think that many of the best photographs are actually technically "bad", and that I should concentrate on making "bad" images. I mean, think how "bad" paintings are compared to today's photos.

atmtx said...

Kirk, kind of a depressing thought but I agree with what you say.

Replace the tech stuff with racing cars and that's the difference between SXSW Interactive vs. Fan Fest (during Formula 1 weekend). And heck AT&T and other big companies are at both.

Ray said...

Today's Blog entry was fairly predictable, in that a year ago you wrote this:


ODL Designs said...

Well just to play devils advocate as I have been feeling some of these emotions for a while... Then it hit me, the world I live in is as fleeting as any that came before it, and will come after.

The people are just as fragile, and precious... what I had done to myself was image overload. Looking at too many other pictures from other photographers instead of pursuing my vision, I became a consumer of photography not a producer of art, or vision.

Therefore, my conclusion was that I had consumed too much of what I like to produce... Like a chef who sits and eats too much food, instead of cooking it... and yes, the food is mediocre. But what this does is wear out our willpower and it is our willpower that drives our vision, and pushes us to our limits.

Dave Jenkins said...

Kirk, may I say, very kindly, BALONEY!! Street photography is by no means finished, and neither are you. You are obviously feeling jaded right now, so get some rest, and take a few days trip to some other town to photograph in a new setting whenever you can get away. Meantime, check out this man's work.


And he does it all with a twin-lens-reflex!

John said...

Honestly, I think you've got it entirely backwards. The streets are full of the panorama of life being lived. What could be more interesting or photogenic? And I don't mean this personally, but what the world has more than enough of is staged photographs of pretty young girls taken by middle aged men. As street photographers and portrait photographers, we all need to look deeper and up our game.

mosswings said...

Oh my, oh my, oh my, Kirk. One could be excused for thinking that these were the rants of a crotchety, overbooked craftsman needing to blow off some steam...except that you're absolutely right.

I've just come back from a 3 month RTW trip. I visited places I've never been before, and found...that I've been there before, just with different faces speaking different languages and eating different foods. Only in those places that have not yet reached the "heights" of western european economies are there differences compelling enough to fascinate me, and to photograph. So I do, and find...snapshots. No real time to do anything more than street shooting unless you choose to lose sleep, and nothing really worth the rorty SLR I pack.

Except this time it's a bit different...I've got a tablet with a decent camera on it, and I find that I'm enjoying holding long-distance visually aided conversations with the folks back home more than archiving the journey with the big rig. Oh sure, I dutifully work the scenes looking for something that hasn't been shot before, but don't get that much...instead, I want to just walk, and watch, and soak in the new and fascinating place, not shield myself from it with a camera.

Ming Thein takes great pictures, but his favorite piece of equipment is a plane ticket. He doesn't really shoot around home any more, having blown 200K frames learning how to. And he's finding that he's running out of destinations to inspire him. So he shoots architectural juxtapositions of chairs and common household objects with consummate craft, and I find them fascinating. Somehow, he pulls something compelling out of a set of conditions that causes me to put the camera away and search for a different way of witnessing freed of the old protocols committed to habit.

Street photography isn't dead...it's just become street visual conversation, and the cell phone camera has made that possible. Image-making has become another aspect of the immediacy of conversation, and anything making that more effortful than speaking , listening, seeing, and pointing will be set aside.

Cameras' monologing and speechifying no longer fit into today's immediately communicating world. Maybe that's a better world than Nikon and Canon and Leica and I grew up in. How do you get a plane ticket to that destination?

Gawd, I'm depressed now.

Old Gray Roy said...

Perhaps we should consider the mountains of dreck being produced now as the manure that will someday fertilize a bold new world of fabulous creative image-making.
After all, 'Out of the mud grows the lotus'.

Kirk Tuck said...

Well, well, well. We certainly have started a constructive conversation here. And, as always, that is my intention.

Not feeling jaded or worn out, just ready to move on.

Ash Crill said...

Nikhil, I think you missed this line:

"none of this article has anything to do with countries with emerging or submerging economies.."

Ash Crill said...

Hi Kirk,

Thanks for pointing out the homogeneity of city-dwellers.

Frankly, snapshots of strangers do not interest me much. They are ok when travelling to remember the people who live in a certain place, but city strangers on my lunch break are not something I want or need photographs of. us city centre office workers all look alike, with our crumpler bags and phablets.

What is the opposite of street photography?

A new personal goal is to take nice photographs of the people that I actually know. Acquaintances, friends and family. Take them aside when we are visiting, or on a work break, put them in a spot with interesting light, and photograph them.

This is something I should been doing my entire life. There are plenty of people I went to school and university with, but I have no record of them other than fuzzy memories. Faces with no names attached, or names with no faces.

The other step is to print out the photos, little 4x6 prints, and stick them in an actual photo album with their name and a date written on the back.

Maybe nobody else will ever look at them, but it will be meaningful to myself as a record of the people I have known from middle-age onward.

As a casual hobby photographer, self-indulgence is the point of the entire exercise.

Michael Matthews said...

Before you move on entirely, would you please offer your novel as a self-published e-book?

You're such an excellent writer that there should be a significant response from your regular blog readers. However, if the blog joins street photography as something no longer of interest readership will dwindle and that ready-made and motivated channel of distribution will vanish.

$9.95 is today's direct marketing magical price. Anybody will pay $9.95 for anything. Grab that market before it fades.

Joseph Kashi said...

Firstly, as have other commenters, I'd like to encourage and reinforce what you're doing in this blog. It's the one site I go to every day along with the New York Times. That's because there's usually material that's thoughtful and well-written.

Over the past 20+ years, I've often written and spoken to US and Canadian solo and small firm legal groups about using technology. In the process, I've learned how hard it is to be incisive and fresh on a consistent basis, which you do far more often than nearly anyone. I've also learned that what we write tends to have a very positive benefit when it prods people to think outside of their comfort zones. So, I urge you to continue energetically with your blog, regardless of specific photo topic.

Woody Allen's recent film "Midnight in Paris" really does hit the right point - it's far too easy to always see an irretrievably earlier period as a "Golden Age" rather than savoring and working within the changes of our current existence.

As a practical matter, street photography really has been overdone, particularly in the past 10 or 15 years, by the masses who seem to believe that it's the Holy Grail of camera and lens. Perhaps that's because street photography is an academic fad. Too many images of anything tend to anesthetize us to more of the same, regardless of whether taken with a cell phone or a Hasselblad.

Feeling in a rut and stale, more than anything, tells us that we're a bit burned out for the moment, perhaps have exhausted a particular creative vein, and that it's time to move on. It doesn't tell us any more than that.

Occasionally, earlier non-cellphone street photography can still astonish. Paul Strand's "Wall Street", Weegee, Lang and Smith's FSA work, and some of Callahan's stark Chicago street images continue to inspire. These certainly are all street photography in a broad sense, but very different in style and content.

Perhaps it's simply time to shift to a different approach. Everyone has dry periods when nothing seems to work, whether from the myriad stresses of daily professional life, too many demands upon our finite time, or just having done too much of the same sort of work in a compressed time period.

When I encounter non-creative periods anymore, it doesn't scare me as much as it did before. Now, I've learned that we're inevitably on a creative roller-coaster. With a bit of time off, rest, and doing something unrelated, along with not forcing creative work, we usually bounce back when it's least expected.

During creative down-times, I find myself focusing upon improving my own technical skills and upgrading any mediocre gear so that I'm better prepared when the muse unexpectedly strikes. I also remind myself that Ansel Adams once pointedly commented that producing a dozen really good images a year was solid achievement.

Tom said...

Hi Kirk,
Regardless of your feelings, I think we are getting to see more great and moving images than ever before. I was recently rocked by the image that came out of Yarmouk "camp" in Syria, taken by someone with the UN. It's a devastating image of an apocalyptic site.
On a lighter note, there was a very funny and timely video put up yesterday in Saudi: http://youtu.be/n14Ar6MWRrQ which reached 2 million views in a day. This incident will probably help ease tensions between neighbours with "issues" (Saudi & Qatar), because a holidaying Qatari soldier turned into a movie stuntman to help out the Saudi cops.
What I'm getting at is that it has always been the content that's more important than the medium, and technology is getting the content around so much faster now. Sure, it can seem depressing seeing folks wandering around looking at blue screens. But they are communicating , reading, looking at content that they would have missed in times past. And some of that content is brilliant. And folks find ways of cutting through the dross.

Dave said...

Ecclesiastes 1:9 ... and there is nothing new under the sun...

Take a chill pill. you are giving an inane, crotchety comment way too much credence.

Is the world saturated with digital images? Yes. IS there still inspiration in being interested enough in the human condition to be inspired to photograph it? Is it ok to learn and create, even if it is within frail human boundaries?

If you liked walking around taking macro shots of worn brass door handles will people thing you are nuts? Yeah probably. Who gives a crap. The literary world is lined with people whose great work was not understood in their time. Emily Dickinson's works weren't published util many years later.

The bottom line is that across all the generations of humanity the finger prints of creativity will always appear the same from a macro perspective, yet up close are never exactly the same.

Go take pictures that make you happy and as in all things strive to contribute/grow.

Dave Jenkins said...

What Robert Louis Stevenson said is still true: "The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings."

We just need to look more deeply.

Mr. Savage X Morlock said...

I'm inclined to jump with both feet on no. It's not the camera, it's the photographer. The trained and disciplined eye will always produce something that is more than the sum of the 'point, shoot, publish' mentality. A few lucky shots will always pop up, but this is a long tail profession which rewards consistency and patience. I don't think my phone could have produced the work I did shooting Alexandria or DC at night with the control over the image that I managed. I also fail to understand the infatuation with filters that replicate stuff like fogging and light bleed which were *undesired* effects when I was learning to shoot.

It is important, now, more than ever to a) distinguish your work with extra care and effort; b) develop a style that can be identified; and c) work hard to elevate your exposure and network extensively to generate contacts and reputation. None of this is easy and it will require a step beyond what most photogs are doing.

AtomicP said...

Agreed. My take on things is slightly different because I wonder whether it's a product of my own age (thirties) or the time we live in. My guess is a mix of the two. Corporate homogenisation blends in the profitable bits of the USA into many cultures around the world.

The web helps blend ideas into a homogeneous blob of ideals shared by the new youth. Capturing something different is much harder now I think.

In a word, things have become more bland.

Charles Quinn said...

I can relate to your experience at the press event. I was hired to photograph a SXSW corp event last weekend. I offered to send the corp's public relations person photos during the event so he could post them to social media (via Olympus EM-1wifi). I felt I was being forward thinking until the same public relations person stepped in front of me during a panel discussion to snap a photo with his smart phone. I suddenly felt like I was working with ancient technology.


Dave said...

It's interesting that you're kind of jaded with the street stuff you've been doing and I'm jaded with doing just "pretty girl" shots. I want something more too.
Keep moving forward

Craig Lee said...

When the streets all look the same, then find different streets.

Maybe you need to take a trip somewhere new.

Anonymous said...

Good writing and even a decent writer you are...great blog!

Ron Nabity said...

Most of the time, it's the experience, not the photograph that I long for. The act of making a picture usually helps me immerse myself a bit more. The camera of choice is not as important.

Bat54 said...

The photo reminds me of Emmylou Harris in her youth.

Brad Nichol said...

If all you photograph is street then all you will see are the street, If all you photograph are pretty girls, then you will look for and see pretty girls.

And I gotta say both pretty much bore me to the pixels most of the time.

Photography despite what most photographers probably think is not about the final images, not about the sharing of the images and certainly not about the gear.

It is, as the previous poster said about the journey, but what is the journey about?

It is about you receiving a gift, the gift of sight at a much deeper level.

The camera is the vehicle to make it possible, the prints or images proof of the journey and your progress along the path.

The seeing, the really really seeing stuff is the unspoken goal, and you will carry that with you every day regardless of what camera you hold or where you go.

For many photographers the problems is they are only seeing what every other photographer is seeing, and spending too much time on flikr and other pic sites will probably make the problem worse.

And.... you won't see new things if you keep looking for the same things you have always seen, be they streets or girls or anything else.

I guess I am saying we need to explore more with our eyes and be less hung up on what we actually record with our cameras, enjoy what we actually see. If we get a few great pics that is a bonus, if as Adams said we get a crop of 12 significant images in a year, well that is a great result.

Michael said...

Hi Kirk, I agreed with you on your blog about street photography but then I discovered:


Bob Travaglione said...

I think that Austin is just too Clean and Corporate for Street Photography. It is too much of an "In" Place. I want to keep documenting with some machine with a better sensor than is included in a cell phone. I am still finding new things in the rotten older streets of our world. I need places to roam that have not been sanitized, homogenized and corportatized into the conforming concept of the CEO's, Big Banks and Wall Streeters. Austin would be my last choice for picture making in Texas. Texas has so much more to see and capture.

mosswings said...


Thomas Leuthard is the exceptional photographer that proves the rule.

If there's one thing that I see most in his images that I don't usually see in most street "photography" is thoughtful composition. His images are elegantly simple and the statements they make about his perception of the scene both clear and sophisticated. I'd almost want to call them street portraiture, but on second thought I should probably call most so-called street-photography drive-by-snapshooting. Doing the former rather than the latter takes as much dedication as a landscape photographer waiting for the right light in the right season on the right wilderness trail. That sort of time and discipline is in short supply if it isn't your priority, and that was Kirk's point, methinks. Great link, thanks.

Steve Mack said...

Maybe another model would be to work anonymously, like Vivian Maier. You shoot for yourself,with no concerns about publishing.

Just a thought.

With best regards,


Andrea said...

A pessimistic post with a lot of truth contained within.
Me, I have the privilege of having another job so I can shoot only for myself... I feel liberating going around with my camera in a little shoulder bag, and when I see a shape, a texture, a composition that strikes me I shot it. I look at the photos, only afterward, and then I choose what to store and what to delete. Something I'll share with others, something not. I like it very much in this way...