Street without people…

Street photography usually contains people.  But it doesn’t have to.

If you believe — as I do — that street photography shows a situation (often humorous, sometimes poignant) rather than just a scene of a city street, then I think I can convince you that animals can be the subjects of street photography.  I’ll go one further:  Street doesn’t have to contain anything live.

A little aside:  So many of the so-called street photography images we see today are just photos made on a city street.  Maybe they contain street performers; possibly vagrants.  They may be interesting but those images — in my opinion — fall short of the real street genre. Real street may suggest a story and it may prompt an emotional response — maybe an inward smile or an involuntary humph Real street often makes you want to think of a caption.

“So,” you say, “show me street without people.”

DSC_2281Here’s one that tells a story.  I made the photo outside the leather market at Piazza del Mercato Nuovo in Florence.  The pup stared directly to the point he last saw his owner.  You can read trust, love, devotion — the dog for his owner and the owner for his dog.  (It was a dark, rainy day and I had my tripod so I made the shot at 1/30 sec at f/2.8.)

NEW ZEALAND BIRDS_001These two sea birds were enjoying the sun in the little seaport town of Devonport, North Island, New Zealand.  The bird on the left is amusing by itself but the photo would not have qualified (in my mind) as legitimate street if the second bird had not turned his head toward the acrobat.  He has to be saying something like, “Act your age!”  (To blur the background I used f/2.8 at 1/800 sec.)


AMALFI BED_001I have absolutely no idea in the world why this folding bed — with one wheel missing — was left on the shore walk at Maiori, Amalfi Coast, Italy.  But there it sat.  Imagine the picture without the bed:  The soft colors of the evening light and even the fishermen on the point of rocks might make an interesting image but the bed…well…the bed makes it street.  (1/80 second at f/4.2)

So, Dear Reader, you have my take (opinionated, I admit) on what makes street photography and why it doesn’t necessarily have to have humans — or even life — to qualify.  It isn’t easy to find these little gems that the world leaves for us.  I spent nine days recently on the streets of London and came home with only three photos that I consider real street photography.  But it’s the search that makes the find so rewarding.

You might find interesting a blog posting I made back in January of this year entitled What is Street Photography? (A totally biased answer.).

Please comment if you wish.

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Jim Loring - Brilliant John, perceptive comments on street photography – and along with your images this is an inspiration. I for one will be pulling my camera out in the street a little more. Thanks!

skeeter - Thanks for the comment, Jim. And, you are correct: If you don’t have your camera the moment is more a memory than an image and a memory.

Stephanie - I would love to know the story behind the abandoned bed. Well done!

skeeter - Thanks, Stephanie, I would too. It sat there for three days that I knew of — and no one bothered it.

Ed Vatza - “In my opinion”… those are the most critical words in your entire post. You know what they say about opinions, everyone has one. I often say that I don’t care about definitions just the art. But the truth of the matter is I have opinions as well. I agree that you can do street photography without people. However in my opinion, the examples you share are not street phptography. Call them outdoor photography, nature photography, heck call it fine art photography. But, in my opinion, it ain’t street. Conversely I include in my definition many of the things you exclude. Different strokes for different folks and all that. I could probably say more but I on an iPhone bouncing along in a bus returning from a day of shooting my kind of street in New York City. Not looking for an argument. Just sharing “my” opinion.

skeeter - Great comments, Ed. I’m sure there are others that agree with you. And, you are absolutely correct: My statements about “street” come from an opinionated mind. Isn’t it great that, as you say, “different strokes, etc.” I’d be interested to see your photography. Could you send me some — or links — through the contact mechanism on my blog page? Thanks for the comments John

Roger Evans - Good Morning

Your visit this morning for the first time was a really nice treat. I like street photography and I frequently walk early mornings just to look and see. Not very often I see interesting shots which I share with friends.

I am looking forward to your next mailing. Thank you for sharing with me your mailing of today.


skeeter - Thanks, Roger. Glad we could visit. Interesting street is like finding a little treasure, I think.


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