This is a collection of my ten (plus one) favorite photographs from street photographers that I have discovered through Instagram. This is the hidden strength of the broad and international appeal of Instagram - the ability to daily follow some great photographers wherever they are and see both the places photography has been and also the direction in which it is heading today. It is both inspiring and motivating to witness beautiful photos from fantastic photographers around the world.
There have been basically two major evolutions or paradigm shifts in photography beginning roughly with the turn of the century. The first relates to the digital sensor replacing silver based film. This technology enabled the camera to capture a much broader range of light and color, but perhaps equally important, it allowed the photographer to take countless times more photos during an outing than compared with the limitation of 36 exposure film. The second major change deals with the social media and its roll in instantly displaying photos throughout the world. Instagram, the only social medium designed exclusively for photographers, is at the forefront of this international distribution of the work of photographers everywhere. Hundreds, even thousands, of people are now able to see the average photographer's collection of images, and this serves to motivate all to push the limits of this universal art form.
For my cover photo above, I chose perhaps my favorite street photography image. It was taken by the “Passionate Photographer", Steve Simon. who is an award-winning documentary photographer from Canada and author of five photography books. He has spent much of his time in Cuba trying to capture the beauty and spirit of its people. He says, “Photography has been my passport to extraordinary people and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. All I ever wanted to do was take pictures. I’m living the dream.”
My second photo was taken by Lee Jeffries, who is from the U.K. Jeffries unique approach to photographing the homeless with his genuine humanistic and social approach is both beautiful and inspiring. He also devotes much time to getting to know his subjects prior to bringing out his camera. Through his images, he tries to give his subject a renewed sense of dignity. With his photography, he says, "There is no substitute for emotion. A $5,000 camera wont save an image nor will hours in PS. You have to capture something from the outset. Always get that bit right."
The third photo is by Fred Herzog who works out of Vancouver. Much of his work was done in Kodachrome slides, which made his colors, especially the reds, look very different than those of a digital sensor. Since most other street photographers were shooting in back & white, this also made Herzog's more difficult to exhibit. He once stated about the importance of street photography, "“Only a few people can see, but most people don’t even look.”
My next photographer is Elliott Erwitt, who one can say has genuine fun with his camera. He began as a photographer's assistant in the 1950s in the United States Army while stationed in Europe. A centerpiece of his work deals with the world of dogs, and he has published five books with these K-9 photos. Much of his street photography includes photos without actual people. About this he states, "The manifestation of people, whether it’s actual people or what people do, it’s the same thing."
Next on the list is is the Dutch photographer, Martin Roemers, who plays with time in much of his work. The sense of motion in his photographs tends to shift the attention to the true subject of the photo. His primary technique is to photograph using long exposures to capture the excitement and turmoil of major cities throughout the world. This was made even more noteworthy since he used large format cameras to accomplish these complex shoots. He says about his work, "I start selecting the images which capture everything and have a fine balance between static and moving elements. What I want is that the image tells a lot of different stories."
Richard Sandler is a photo-journalist from New York, whose mission was to document the city that he loved. He states, “I guess I believe in the remedial power of art, because with street photography, with this body of work, I'm definitely implying a lot of things and hopefully making people aware of some of the political realities on the street.” His love of the city and its people is clearly evidenced in his photography. His views on cell phones in photography is both interesting and similar to mine, “I don’t want people on cell phones in my pictures because they are essentially virtual; their bodies are on the street but their attentions are elsewhere and they walk around in bubbles.”
Next in line is Yanidel, a Leica M-9 street photographer from Paris. He writes about his work, "I try to give a surrealist and lyric dimension to the little facts of our daily life, trying to blend in some humour and a positive spin from time to time." He believes that he did not choose street photography, but that the streets chose him.
The Godfather of Street Photography, William Klein, was New York bred, but Paris trained. His first collection of the streets of New York was considered un-American. It was said it presented too dismal an image of the city. He was unconventional in his approach, but he said, “I came from the outside, the rules of photography didn't interest me." Klein was far more interactive with his subjects than was the case with prior street photographers. This brought about some criticism of his work, but he said, “The way a subject reacts to the camera can create a kind of happening. Why pretend the camera isn’t there? Why not use it? Maybe people will reveal themselves as violent or tender, crazed or beautiful. But in some way, they reveal who they are. They’ll have taken a self-portrait.”
The work of Helen Levitt has been described as "playful and poetic." Her mentors were Henri Cartier-Bresson and Walker Evans, and due to their influence, she began her color documentation of New York. She never thought about a project for a day but, "I would go out and shoot, follow my eyes—what they noticed, I tried to capture with my camera, for others to see.”
The New York based photographer Dave Knugman says, "“Photography has made me appreciate the light of the world mostly when I don't have a camera. You learn how to look for as well as capture the beautiful moments life can offer." For him the goal of all photographers is to stand out and create their own individual work.