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Who else doesn't get street photography?
Old 03-07-2017   #1
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Who else doesn't get street photography?

The vast majority of so-called 'street' photography does nothing for me.

Most simply do not exhibit any degree of photographic merit, often they don't have a subject and look like a haphazard, random snap. Poorly framed, out of focus, people looking down at the ground, it's kinda like watching a sitcom that's just not funny. Just want to change the channel...

Very rarely there are those photos that *do* hold interest, instantly grabbing the viewer's attention and having photographic merit, but the only thing that the latter have in common with the former is that they were, well, taken on some street somewhere.

It appears that most such photographs are posted/shared just *because* they are street, regardless (in spite?) of whether they have photographic merit.

Does anyone else feel similarly?
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Old 03-07-2017   #2
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I take your point.

One can make the same criticism about other genres of photography – landscape, portrait, still life etc.

Poorly executed images with little or no artistic merit in the eye of the beholder are poorly executed images.

In this respect street photography is no different.
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Old 03-07-2017   #3
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A not-unexpected reply, and true, although it appears to me that mediocre (valueless?) street photography is often highly praised, whereas mediocre photography of other varieties typically aren't shared in the first place.
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Old 03-07-2017   #4
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Praised by who.?
For some reason street photography was become extremely popular, leading to everybody and their mother posting photos to wherever they can. I'm sure if landscape photography got as popular with the masses, there would be loads of crap on the internet. Very few are praised by non Internet forums, or mediocre competitions.
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Old 03-07-2017   #5
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i get incredibly bored with most landscape and portrait photography. they seem to get a lot of undue praise on flickr, too.
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Old 03-07-2017   #6
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The same can apply to many genres.

Quote:
The vast majority of so-called 'landscape' photography does nothing for me.

Most simply do not exhibit any degree of photographic merit, often they are generic shots of a scenic view and all look the same. Overly dramatic, hardly any seperation, wide grandios shots of a beach, it's kinda like watching a sitcom that's just not funny. Just want to change the channel...

Very rarely there are those photos that *do* hold interest, instantly grabbing the viewer's attention and having photographic merit, but the only thing that the latter have in common with the former is that they were, well, taken on some beach/mountain/waterfall.

It appears that most such photographs are posted/shared just *because* they are landscapes, regardless (in spite?) of whether they have photographic merit.

Does anyone else feel similarly?
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Old 03-07-2017   #7
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Sturgeon's Law:

Critic, to Theodore Sturgeon: "90% of science fiction is crud".

Sturgeon: "90% of anything is crud".

Sure, there's a lot of bad street photography out there. But then, there's a lot of bad photography, period. Probably more like 99%.

And de gustibus non disputandum: you can't really argue about taste. Do you really not "get" Henri Cartier-Bresson or Willy Ronis?

Cheers,

R.
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Old 03-07-2017   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by splitimageview View Post
although it appears to me that mediocre (valueless?) street photography is often highly praised, whereas mediocre photography of other varieties typically aren't shared in the first place.
Now this is interesting and something I have noticed.
Which could be why street photography as a genre gets negative attention, such as the title of this thread.

And the same could be said about many other genres of photography as well as many other subjects outside of photography.
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Old 03-07-2017   #9
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OP went nothing new route on flaming at beaten to the dust topic about bad street photography. What OP did is nothing new, either. Blaming others for something OP is incapable to see/understand and find/learn is nothing new.

Meanwhile, yesterday, I ordered "About Russia" by Henri Cartier-Bresson and "Soviet Union" by Emil Schulthess street photography books. And couple of weeks ago I paid big money (in CAD) for Viktor Kolar Canadian street photography book.
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Old 03-07-2017   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by radi(c)al_cam View Post
What is «street photography» after all?

I would sincerely expect «candid» photographs of beggars with missing limbs, drunk whores, drug users, and so on, but certainly not some un-authentic yuppies in front of a shopping mall …
I suppose it would be "Anything goes"? Scenics with people, scenics with no people, pets, cars, dramatic images, boring images, funny images,etc.

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Old 03-07-2017   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
Sturgeon's Law:

Critic, to Theodore Sturgeon: "90% of science fiction is crud".

Sturgeon: "90% of anything is crud".

Sure, there's a lot of bad street photography out there. But then, there's a lot of bad photography, period. Probably more like 99%.

And de gustibus non disputandum: you can't really argue about taste. Do you really not "get" Henri Cartier-Bresson or Willy Ronis?

Cheers,

R.
Spot on Roger. Only a few excel at any art form. Even then, how many negatives out of a days shooting wind up printed? I sometimes wonder what HCB's 'hit rate' was.
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Old 03-07-2017   #12
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there's a lot of bad wine out there...lots of bad paintings and sketch work...poorly cooked food and funny looking dogs...whiny cats...cheap cars...bad religion and worse politics...

anyone else feel this way?
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Old 03-07-2017   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by back alley View Post
there's a lot of bad wine out there...lots of bad paintings and sketch work...poorly cooked food and funny looking dogs...whiny cats...cheap cars...bad religion and worse politics...

anyone else feel this way?
Almost same way. But all dogs and cats are beautiful.
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Old 03-07-2017   #14
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'But all dogs and cats are beautiful'...very true...no insult meant to our animal brothers...
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Old 03-07-2017   #15
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It isn't hard to find high praise of mediocre landscapes, portraits, nudes and still lives.
And it has never been easier to make technically competent photos of boring subjects. So it has become harder to make excellent photos.
Moreover, tastes differ. Recently, and acquaintance in a helpful mood sent me a file of 'More than Photography' photos. Soldiers kissing babies, handicapped people braving hardship with a smile, children in war-torne rubble, a beggar with weepy eyes, sweet grannies and heart-breaking youngsters. Sentimental crap, in my opinion.
On the other hand, I am well aware that I am angling for the same sort of emotional response. I try to swim the gap between the cliffs of Boredom and Kitsch, but it is a very narrow channel, and more often than not, I'm scraping one or the other, if not both.
And often, excellent is nothing special. I'm working at portraiture, honing skills, working on focus, framing, light, trying to gage the mood of my subject. Compared to older work some of my portraits could be called excellent, yet they are but marginally interesting footnotes to the history of portraiture, just another portrait of an unknown nobody, who cares?

As making good photos has become easier, making outstanding ones has become harder. A world with one Cartier Bresson had a few outstanding photographers. A world with two million Cartier Bressons produces a lot of sameness.
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Old 03-07-2017   #16
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I'm a sucker for cat photos. Also I like cats, and they seem to know it and use it to every advantage.
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Old 03-07-2017   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
Sturgeon's Law:

Critic, to Theodore Sturgeon: "90% of science fiction is crud".

Sturgeon: "90% of anything is crud".

Sure, there's a lot of bad street photography out there. But then, there's a lot of bad photography, period. Probably more like 99%.

And de gustibus non disputandum: you can't really argue about taste. Do you really not "get" Henri Cartier-Bresson or Willy Ronis?

Cheers,

R.

As an aside, thank you, Roger, for citing Willy Ronis. Asking myself how, in a lifetime of interest, did I ever manage to miss this man's work entirely?
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Old 03-07-2017   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by splitimageview View Post
The vast majority of so-called 'street' photography does nothing for me.
When magazines paid me for photographs taken on the street, I liked it.

Otherwise I don't think about it much.
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Old 03-07-2017   #19
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I don't get the **** photography that people mostly call street. They simply aren't good photographers, regardless if they use 3 leicas
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Old 03-07-2017   #20
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If you cannot find the good stuff, you are looking in the wrong places.
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Old 03-07-2017   #21
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That's probably true of 99% of the photography out there these days irregardless of the genre. You really have to do it yourself, or go to a good gallery/museum to see any good street work, and all of it will be from past photographers (dead). It's not an easy discipline, and you either have the eye for it, or you don't. It also means taking lots and lots of pics that need to be edited down to only a few stellar keepers.

Very few people are capable of good street work, and there's a darned good reason why people like Vivian Maier, Walker Evans, Eugene Smith (to name just a few) were the best of the best. Here's a look at some good work, and there is a lot out there from that time period, but the current era that we live in is one of the worst for this form of photography. The whole art world of today pretty much sucks. Seriously, it is almost impossible to find any contemporary photography or painting that is worth looking at. I haven't seen anything as good as the shots on this link in a long, long time, especially that shot of the blind accordion player on the subway that Walker Evans took w/ his hidden camera scheme. Keep in mind that he had to manually pre set the focus on it and have the exposure guesstimated to pull this off. Who has the eye and the skills to do this today?

http://www.phototraces.com/photograp...photographers/
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Old 03-07-2017   #22
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Worst thing about it is people encourage each other on these forums to think their ****ty pics are good, even when they aren't. This kills the critical thinking and culling power of a photographer. Even worse is, nobody gives a flying f.
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Old 03-07-2017   #23
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How many of the biggest critics in this thread are in the same boat as those that they hate?
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Old 03-07-2017   #24
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I agree with you Robert.

Much of "Street photography" is the equivalent of a 5 year old strumming a guitar to fake cords they make up... it makes a sound but no music is to be heard.
With the photographs,... there might be an image but there is nothing to see.
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Old 03-07-2017   #25
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I mostly don't like the term "street" photography. It annoys me.
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Old 03-07-2017   #26
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Old 03-07-2017   #27
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I could write the same commentary for postings too.
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Old 03-07-2017   #28
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I love to watch people in life, so I love to look at pictures of people too.
Street photography is overwhelmingly pictures of people, so generally I like it, but I must admit there is some boring street photography posted.
A good picture has to tell a story, even if I have to make it up myself.
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Old 03-07-2017   #29
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I like looking at street photography photos on the web, but I wouldn't necessary want to acquire finished prints and hang them up on my wall at home to admire. I can only speak the opposite for landscape photography.
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Old 03-07-2017   #30
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I would add that, due to the huge amount of photography done till today, we are over saturated with photography. There is hardly anything left to photograph that havent been photographed already, which make it harder for us to be "impressed" by todays street (or any other genre) photography.

Also, current society relies on "instant results". We (as a whole) have lost the patience and time to get the skills to create great photography; such skills only come with practice and time. Digital photography is not helping either, because it gives instans gratification. Because its so easy to take techinically great photography with current equipments, the camera robs us from our mistakes . When we miss a shoot because we arent ready, when one potentially great photography is ruined by not focosing right, when that great light play is lost to us due to a bad exposure, we learn from those mistakes, and learn to be ready for next time, so we can create a great shoot, because our brain learns to be ready, based on past experience and mistakes.

So yeah, I dont really get "something" from most of street photograpy, or most genre
today. I do, from time to time, get great pleasure from great photography, so I guess the magic it still with us, just a bit harder to find.

Just my coffee break rant.

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Old 03-07-2017   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by splitimageview View Post
The vast majority of so-called 'street' photography does nothing for me...
So are you criticizing street photographer as a genre itself (however one defines the inherently ambiguous term), or is your complaint against the amount of horrible but nevertheless praised photos that street photography attracts?

I get Henri Cartier-Bresson, I get Garry Winogrand, I get Robert Frank, I get William Eggleston, I get Lee Freidlander, I get Daido Moriyama, and I get numerous other street photographers, past and present.

if no one else does, then that’s their personal choice, and fortunately, there’s lots of choice from which to choose.

Still, I’m glad I can appreciate their work, because it comprises some of the best that photography has to offer, at least as far as I’m concerned, and that’s what ultimately matters. Others are free to disagree.

And as others have correctly noted on this thread, I reckon all genres suffer similar issues of substandard quality and questionable applaud. And while zuiko85 beat me to the point, I suggest that you see the number of “likes” that someone’s cat snapshot draws on Facebook, or any photo of any sunset ever.

Good photography, or even more so, exceptional photography, is, by definition, going to be limited, above the norm.
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Old 03-07-2017   #32
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What is an agreed upon definition of "street photography?"
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Old 03-07-2017   #33
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"Street photography" could be substituted with "emperor's new clothes" looking at that website. There is a reason why you don't see much if any street photography at museums or galleries. Older street photography is more about nostalgia these days. The decisive moment was a technical challenge back when it emerged, which is why it was a big deal. Now, not so much. Just like everything else in life, the first time someone does something it is interesting, the millionth, not so much. That isn't to say that there are no good street photographs, but they sure are rare.
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Old 03-07-2017   #34
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I love to watch people in life, so I love to look at pictures of people too.
Street photography is overwhelmingly pictures of people, so generally I like it, but I must admit there is some boring street photography posted.
A good picture has to tell a story, even if I have to make it up myself.
That's the root reason people like street photography. We have 35,000 years of evolution that makes us aware of and interested in other people. City streets have lots more people than, say, a Nebraska cornfield, so it's easy to capture all those people doing interesting things: eating, scratching, stepping over a puddle, things like that. It's very seldom anything unique, novel, or artistic. Yet people are instinctively pulled into looking at street photography. Hey, at least it's more popular than Food Pictures or Duck Pout Girls in Bars pictures, the next two leading genres.
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Old 03-07-2017   #35
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I like good street photography. Which is any street photography that I like. I'm somewhat able to analyze a photograph "objectively" in terms of tonality or composition, etc, but this all follows a gut reaction that I either like or don't like it. I like people-watching, too, so that probably leads me to like street photography (when well done) as a genre.

I wonder how many people who don't get street photography would also not call themselves avid people-watchers.

(and now that I posted this I see similar things were said above!)
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Old 03-07-2017   #36
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"Street photographers" are touchy about it, it seems!
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Old 03-07-2017   #37
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"Street photographers" are touchy about it, it seems!
you see more anti street photography threads than anti landscape threads...
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Old 03-07-2017   #38
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Street photography works when there is an overarching social message that can be read though a single or multi-image set. Street photography is no different from a sunset photo when it's just 'decisive moment' hunting.

I personally find street photography these days pretty boring, but that's because it just seems like decisive moment hunting and various magnum photo style copiers. But, I woulnd't tell anyone not to practice it, I'd just say what I always say, which is never stop asking yourself what you're trying to do, and why you're trying to do it. Even if you do that well after the fact.
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Old 03-07-2017   #39
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Old 03-07-2017   #40
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So are you criticizing street photographer as a genre itself (however one defines the inherently ambiguous term), or is your complaint against the amount of horrible but nevertheless praised photos that street photography attracts?
I'm not criticizing anything, it's just an observation.

Sure, there are all sorts of genres with mediocre photography. Only a very small percentage of photography of any genre has true merit and is extraordinary, but it appears that street photography is routinely praised as extraordinary regardless of whether it is extraordinary, poor, mediocre, or just plain ordinary.

Just curious if anyone else has the same opinion.

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