Project 52 week 9: street photography

‘Street photography’ is my favourite kind of photography. What I like about it is not so much that it is ‘street’ photography, but ‘life’ photography. Good examples of this form of photography capture atmosphere, mood, emotion and interesting aspects of our lives. In some images, the photographer is very much a part of the scene and quite involved in it but in others, the photo is like a window into a different place.
Having given quite some thought into street photography though, there is a line between taking photos of life and being invasive. I have been looking at a number of forums and have become quite interested in understanding the photographer’s intent when taking photos. Some are brilliantly able to capture the mood or feeling of a place with not much more than a blur of a barely recognisable human form, just light and shadow where with other photos you really do struggle to understand what the photographer was thinking while they were taking the photo and even more so, when they decided to share it.
Many street photographers prefer black and white and for this form of photography, I also think it works really well.
I have taken many thousands of photos but very few in this style as I think you really need to think through what you are doing when you are taking photos of people you don’t know. For example, do they mind and how should you go about obtaining permission (is it required? that might vary from place to place). Beyond your legal responsibility are the ethics as well. There do seem to be places where people in general are quite happy to have their photo taken such as at cultural events, popular tourist destinations etc and will pose for you if you like. Even so though, they should have the right to see your photo and ask for it to be deleted if they don’t like it. Now its obvious from many examples you see on the web that this level of permission has not been sought which really does highlight the issues that this form of photography raises. In itself, it is a quite stunning art form and means of capturing important aspects of life.
Onto this week’s photo, I chose it for a few reasons. Firstly I wanted an example of capturing an atmosphere without capturing in great detail, a particular person but I wanted the scene to be quite recognisable. It is a side street in Paris looking across from one cafe to another in some fairly harsh light conditions (extremely bright sunlight with some difficult shadows).
The photo was taken with a simple point-and-shoot camera that had a ‘grainy black and white’ picture effect so it is straight out of the camera using its own effects for black and white. The ‘grainy black and white’ effect certainly is that – very grainy – but many street photos seem to use that look.
The really interesting aspect of the photo for me, and this seems to be the case with a number of street photos that I have taken which I like, are the multiple ‘communication’s going on, which in this case came into play quite accidentally via the intrusion of someone that I had not intended, or even realised was coming into the picture. He adds a really interesting element as he seems to be looking in the direction of the lady on the bike and in turn, the other woman walking in from the left of the frame seems to be looking at him looking at the lady on the bike. I like the way that sometimes in street photography you are able to capture what you want yet at other times get something totally unexpected. I had originally hoped to capture someone on a bicycle with a basket full of groceries, a quintessential Paris scene but just couldn’t come across this but in the end, quite accidentally captured an interesting little interplay.


Leave a comment


  1. Alan

     /  June 11, 2016

    I was searching for black and White wallpaper for my cafe. Would like to find out how I could use this photo. Could you please contact me on my email.

    Regards Alan

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