What is Street Photography? Is it the same as Urban Photography? Are photos of building and other structures Street Photography or Architectural Photography? Must it contain people? If it contains people, does it have to be a candid shot, or can it be a posed street portrait? Does it have to be on the street, or can it be indoors? Can Street Photography be in color, or must it be in black and white? Does it matter what type of camera you use? What lens?
If you get together a group of photographers and ask them to define Street Photography, you will get as many answers as you have photographers. The well-known Street Photographer, pod-caster and teacher Valerie Jardin frequently speaks of the “Street Photography Police” who insist that for it to truly be Street Photography, it must meet certain criteria, which, of course, they define…and I’m sure if you were to get two of them together, they would completely disagree.
As with many photographers, my first interest was Nature Photography; mostly landscapes and animals, no people. I still do a decent amount of Nature Photography and I find that Street and Nature Photography complement each. There are many skills and techniques that translate from one to the other.
I now like to think of myself as a Street Photographer. I fell into Street Photography because I always try to carry a camera, and I like to take pictures wherever I may be. One snowy day in March 2014 I found myself sitting at the window of the Starbucks on L Street NW near the Farragut North Metro Station. I decided to take pictures of the people passing by, using my old compact camera, a Canon G12. These pictures were both the beginning of a project I call “Spying from Starbucks…or Coffee Shop Candids” and my interest in Street Photography.
This interest has grown due to the confluence of three factors: moving from a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera to a smaller micro-four-thirds camera, traveling to many urban areas, and the beginning of the Valerie Jardin’s “Street Focus” podcast on the TWIP network [Valerie has since started an independent podcast called “Hit the Streets.”] Listening to Valerie and her guests has both inspired me and given me many new ideas to help grow my photography.
In the almost three years since that snowy day, my interest in Street Photography has grown. I have had the opportunity to shoot in Italy, Portugal, South Korea, Argentina, England, Ireland, Scotland, Iceland, Greenland, and Canada, as well as in several cities in the United States (Washington DC, New York/Brooklyn, Portland (Oregon and Maine!), and Milwaukee to name a few). I really like the change of focus from not wanting people in my nature shots to having people as the main subject of my Street Photography. I find this to be a lot of fun, and challenging.
Here is what I have decided about Street Photography. If you are shooting on the streets, it is Street Photography, regardless of the subject, the type of camera you use or how you process the shot (if you look at my photos, you will see a mix of black and white and color). You don’t have to actually be on the street to do Street Photography. As you can see in my Starbucks/Coffee Shop photos, some are inside shots, as are all the photos in my Museum People project.
Please follow me as I continue to explore Street Photography, and hopefully the Street Photography Police will not shut me down…