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Frank Jackson on Street Photography I am happy and excited to announce a new RFF forum on Street Photography mentored by Frank Jackson, one of the best producers of analog B/W prints I have ever seen. His shows include the Open Shutter Gallery, Heriard-Cimino Gallery, and Ogden Museum of Southern Art. His images are in the collections of Smithsonian Ogden Museum of Southern Art, California Afro American Museum and Xavier University New Orleans LA. He has worked for or has been featured with Visa Card, Xerox, UCLA, Eric Owen Moss, Architect, Hasselblad Forum (cover),Gordon Parks, Muhammed Ali, Million Man March Wash. DC, Lionel Hampton, jazz legion photographer , 1995-2002, Stevie Wonder, B+W Magazine (British version) twice, Rangefinder Magazine, Dahon Bicycles, Arelli Wheels, Real Product Design, Automobile Club of Southern California. Frank's online images are at fotographz.500px.com and fotographzfrankjackson.tumblr.com . "While on this diverse photographic journey…I have to say during this whole time my love for fine art black and white photography kept growing. I always found time to shoot in different cities and my own personal work…this has sustained me through some very tough times. As of 2012, with the help of a very good friend I maintain a state-of-the-art dream darkroom. The darkroom helps greatly in the on-going practice of understanding “the light”, being able to process film and print drives me to keep my digital photography “organic”. I’m curious visually and shooting what’s, what on the street feeds this curiosity. Everyday I walk out my front door to “see” the world with a digital camera, a film camera, the “cup” and an open mind (mostly).

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Old 02-17-2015   #41
Colin Corneau
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People walking in front of a sign...it's just a person walking in front of a sign.

The backs of peoples' heads. Few things make you look like a creeper more than sneaking a shot behind someone's back.

There are exceptions to these, of course - but generally I find these types of street images really weak.
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Old 02-17-2015   #42
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And as far as photography of homeless/down on their luck people goes...quick grab shots are voyeurism and cowardly, not to mention demeaning to the person's humanity -- in general.

Why not take the extra step and just engage the person in a conversation? Then it can be a portrait of an individual, instead of reducing the person to a caricature or a meme.
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Old 02-17-2015   #43
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I feed the beast with my professional work so I can shoot whatever I want how ever I want to shoot it with no pressure to make $$$ with personal work though I have had some success with my personal work. Just not enough to give the family the life they so deserve.

As far as telling others how and what they should photograph, I believe as Ansel Adams believed:
"No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit."-Ansel Adams
... that's not what he said about the pictorialists
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Old 02-17-2015   #44
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Do it quick. But start to work slowly on it
First, start to take if from the side:


Beautiful ... morning. by Ko.Fe., on Flickr

Then start to take it in front, but while they are on "not aware mode" a.k.a. talking on the mobile.


Princess... St. by Ko.Fe., on Flickr

I'm on the second stage right now, can't take it from the hip level in front.
... yes, hip shots are wrong, be honest and look through the finder
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Old 02-17-2015   #45
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And as far as photography of homeless/down on their luck people goes...quick grab shots are voyeurism and cowardly, not to mention demeaning to the person's humanity -- in general.

Why not take the extra step and just engage the person in a conversation? Then it can be a portrait of an individual, instead of reducing the person to a caricature or a meme.
Or you could look at it as documenting the very essence of street life, in its rawest form? If you engage with the subject (no matter the background) is it then really street, or does it morph into some sort of sub-genre? It certainly stops being candid.

How is it any less fair to photograph a homeless person than it is to photograph a salary man?

I don't know the actual answer - I'm just posing questions...
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Old 02-17-2015   #46
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Why not take the extra step and just engage the person in a conversation? Then it can be a portrait of an individual, instead of reducing the person to a caricature or a meme.

What makes you think that people don`t do that .?
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Old 02-17-2015   #47
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What makes you think that people don`t do that .?
... Keith did, and with that Speed Graphic, and to good effect
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Old 02-17-2015   #48
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... that's not what he said about the pictorialists
LoL no he, Brandt, Weston, Cunningham and later Besson, Frank and Winogrand (many, many others to) just moved the art form beyond the pictorial. I don't think he told anyone what they should or shouldn't shoot he just believed, and he was correct, that for photography to become a legitimate art form it had to quit imitating another art form, painting.

I don't shoot for the hip either...

I can't dictate what other should or shouldn't shoot. Every time I say that shouldn't be the way you shoot something I see an amazing photograph shot the way I was starting to think it shouldn't be shot. I do have ways I shoot and that's good for me and the way i see. Ya like fine. Don't that's fine to. The way I work is in line and probably a mixture of Bresson, Frank, Callahan, DeCarava, Sauders (my street portraits) Winogrand. THose are also probably my biggest influences with Bresson and his philosophies being a huge influence for sure. And those are things that a re good for me. That doesn't mean I don't think there is real value in the way that others see the world which may or may not be in line with my philosophies.

Heres a great quote by Evans that I don't necessarily believe but I do find rather humorous.
"Photography is not cute cats, nor nudes, motherhood or arrangements of manufactured products. Under no circumstances it is anything ever anywhere near a beach." - Walker Evans
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Old 02-17-2015   #49
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Yes ...but all this is the same old rehash.
Some like it ...some think its boring ...some start worrying about categories and authenticity.

Sooner or later someone raise questions about shots of the homeless.

For the record I can`t remember ever taking a picture of a homeless person ... have I .
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Old 02-17-2015   #50
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... yes, hip shots are wrong, be honest and look through the finder
Hip shots are also on my taboos list.
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Old 02-17-2015   #51
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What makes you think that people don`t do that .?
I engage if my intent is to take a portrait but if the image is about the moment engaging kind of defeats that purpose.
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Old 02-17-2015   #52
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I won't engage in this conversation because I'll quickly make a lot of enemies.

I'll simply say that I'm amazed at the high count of blind photographers out there. Photographers that don't understand what they're seeing ... It's scary.

I agree completely with Mikhail. No, an interesting poster or a weird punk does not make a good photo just because the poster is appealing (another person's work of art) or the punk is a punk.
Thing is Ned, by saying that ^ you have just engaged in the conversation. And anyone with half a brain will be able to work out what you are saying. Especially when you've pretty much said it with the proceeding sentences
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Old 02-17-2015   #53
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This conversation is going nowhere
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Old 02-17-2015   #54
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I won't engage in this conversation because I'll quickly make a lot of enemies.

I'll simply say that I'm amazed at the high count of blind photographers out there. Photographers that don't understand what they're seeing ... It's scary.

I agree completely with Mikhail. No, an interesting poster or a weird punk does not make a good photo just because the poster is appealing (another person's work of art) or the punk is a punk.
But if you can use a background as part of a larger visual whole like a subject is repeating the shapes then it takes a photograph to another level like Bresson's jumping man.
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Old 02-17-2015   #55
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This conversation is going nowhere
Feel free to contribute and steer it in the right direction then
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Old 02-17-2015   #56
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I engage if my intent is to take a portrait but if the image is about the moment engaging kind of defeats that purpose.

Yes ... I agree .
There is no obligation to any of this unless you feel the need.
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Old 02-17-2015   #57
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Feel free to contribute and steer it in the right direction then
Well we're trying to define good street photography by the negative, that'll always be lengthier than the opposite, but even by doing that we'd go back to laying down "rules" about the genre which is also meaningless because even a photo that adheres to those rules could still be uninteresting to some.

I feel like I'm chasing my own tail
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Old 02-17-2015   #58
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Candid photography would be a better name. no?
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Old 02-17-2015   #59
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... do you think you possibly came to the wrong place then?
Well, I do like the 0.1%!

@ Michael Markey: Very true that life is also 99.9% boring, but photography surely must be about editing.

I feel that street has becoming a bit of a fad that has been fed by internet communities, blogs, youtube channels, and probably marketing over the past few years. I don't remember street photography being such a hot topic even just a few years ago, now nearly every time I visit a big city there's class of street photographers on a "street" workshop taking pictures of park benches, close ups of discarded empty coffee cups, and getting up in everyone's grill.

It generally just seems entirely aimless, mechanical - as if somehow people feel obliged to take irrelevant pictures just because they have free time they ought to occupy with some sort of repetitive labour. Are they incapable of dealing with free time?

I don't mean to seem angry, I'm not, I just find it a bit strange.
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Old 02-17-2015   #60
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Well we're trying to define good street photography by the negative, that'll always be lengthier than the opposite, but even by doing that we'd go back to laying down "rules" about the genre which is also meaningless because even a photo that adheres to those rules could still be uninteresting to some.
That about sums up my my concern too.
It appears that the glass is always half empty though.
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Old 02-17-2015   #61
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Well we're trying to define good street photography by the negative, that'll always be lengthier than the opposite, but even by doing that we'd go back to laying down "rules" about the genre which is also meaningless because even a photo that adheres to those rules could still be uninteresting to some.

I feel like I'm chasing my own tail
I (and I'm sure "We") would be open to defining it with any positives, also. We're not laying down rules, because there aren't any. Not really. There isn't with any genre of photography. More, accepted norms.

You're telling us how we're getting this conversation all wrong but aren't offering any alternatives, so from that I can only guess that, for you at least, discussing anything vaguely philosophical (in in the very lightest terms) is redundant. Fair enough.
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Old 02-17-2015   #62
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Hi,

there is still another great cliché...

Using only the noctilux for shooting hydrants and benches at night @ f1.

Also cliché are comments like :

"Breathtaking"

...or titling a picture with the very action portrayed, like "girl walking"...if the comment is "breathtaking" then it´s the monument of clichès.


A taboo are children, i never take pictures of children.
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Old 02-17-2015   #63
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It generally just seems entirely aimless, mechanical - as if somehow people feel obliged to take irrelevant pictures just because they have free time they ought to occupy with some sort of repetitive labour. Are they incapable of dealing with free time?

I don't mean to seem angry, I'm not, I just find it a bit strange.

That's just bad photography, only difference is there aren't any HDR landscape or bokeh Christmas workshops yet (thankfully)
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Old 02-17-2015   #64
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Post up whatever image you want that you think is "street"...but then, can you tell the viewer why?
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Old 02-17-2015   #65
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I (and I'm sure "We") would be open to defining it with any positives, also. We're not laying down rules, because there aren't any. Not really. There isn't with any genre of photography. More, accepted norms.

You're telling us how we're getting this conversation all wrong but aren't offering any alternatives, so from that I can only guess that, for you at least, discussing anything vaguely philosophical (in in the very lightest terms) is redundant. Fair enough.
I didn't say anyone's got it all wrong, I'm just saying there is as little point to this definition of cliche/no-no street photography as there is to defining what makes good street photography, you just said it, there are no rules
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Old 02-17-2015   #66
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Well, I do like the 0.1%!

@ Michael Markey: Very true that life is also 99.9% boring, but photography surely must be about editing.

I feel that street has becoming a bit of a fad that has been fed by internet communities, blogs, youtube channels, and probably marketing over the past few years. I don't remember street photography being such a hot topic even just a few years ago, now nearly every time I visit a big city there's class of street photographers on a "street" workshop taking pictures of park benches, close ups of discarded empty coffee cups, and getting up in everyone's grill.

I don't mean to seem angry, I'm not, I just find it a bit strange.

Ah yes ... I agree ....which is why you get these threads.

In my own defense the first photos I ever took were back in 1962 and they were street shots
I still have the camera .
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Old 02-17-2015   #67
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I didn't say anyone's got it all wrong, I'm just saying there is as little point to this definition of cliche/no-no street photography as there is to defining what makes good street photography, you just said it, there are no rules
If we all thought like that then a photography forum wouldn't get very far. It'd just be a collection of images with no comments. A gallery, if you will.
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Old 02-17-2015   #68
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Well, I do like the 0.1%!

@ Michael Markey: Very true that life is also 99.9% boring, but photography surely must be about editing.

I feel that street has becoming a bit of a fad that has been fed by internet communities, blogs, youtube channels, and probably marketing over the past few years. I don't remember street photography being such a hot topic even just a few years ago, now nearly every time I visit a big city there's class of street photographers on a "street" workshop taking pictures of park benches, close ups of discarded empty coffee cups, and getting up in everyone's grill.

It generally just seems entirely aimless, mechanical - as if somehow people feel obliged to take irrelevant pictures just because they have free time they ought to occupy with some sort of repetitive labour. Are they incapable of dealing with free time?

I don't mean to seem angry, I'm not, I just find it a bit strange.
If everything everybody took was all good then there would be nothing special. I rarely look to self proclaimed places like hard corps street on flicker for good photography. I do look to galleries, museums, books and other such places or some sites. I really like some of the photographers work that post here for instance. The good is a small % in any area. Sports, art, science and most other areas. And the great is even smaller so what should it different with photography?
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Old 02-17-2015   #69
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Ah yes ... I agree ....which is why you get these threads.
These threads? Whatever do you mean, Mike?
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Old 02-17-2015   #70
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If we all thought like that then a photography forum wouldn't get very far. It'd just be a collection of images with no comments. A gallery, if you will.
I don't see how that prevents proper critique, we're discussing things here without any supporting images or context, in absolute
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Old 02-17-2015   #71
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I don't see how that prevents proper critique, we're discussing things here without any supporting images or context, in absolute
That's why its a philosophical (light) post. Its questioning the fundamentals of the genre. You can post an image if you like, but then it will morph into a personal, bitchy critique thread. There are plenty of other threads and opportunities for that.
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Old 02-17-2015   #72
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If everything everybody took was all good then there would be nothing special. I rarely look to self proclaimed places like hard corps street on flicker for good photography. I do look to galleries, museums, books and other such places or some sites. I really like some of the photographers work that post here for instance. The good is a small % in any area. Sports, art, science and most other areas. And the great is even smaller so what should it different with photography?
What I'm saying is that the vast majority of street photography seems to be to be thoughtless and without any real intention. You can say that about all photography, but I think it is especially true of the culture that has developed around "street". It seems generally obligatory and insensitive, more a form of self enforced labour than any kind of creative exercise. It's as if the camera is used as a distancing proxy for experiencing the city instead of the photographer actually enjoying/suffering being present. I have to wonder if street photography is a kind of defence mechanism instead of a way of really engaging more with the urban environment and "learning to see" like so many people say it does. Sorry, two of my Ph.D supervisors are psychoanalysts and it rubs off a bit.

I would say that genres like amateur landscape or portraiture are on the whole (even if also not great art) better thought out and show more thought than street photography.
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Old 02-17-2015   #73
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The typcial bad/boring street photography fails to capture gesture. That's basically it.
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Old 02-17-2015   #74
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Most street photography = bad reportage without any depth or story.
The rest is merely voyeuristic or cheap visual gags.

What's left after the above has been removed is quite good.
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Old 02-17-2015   #75
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As a practice I do not actively photograph "homeless"...but I have had many come up to me and ask to photographed. Some rules should be "pushed" while others should simply NOT be rules. The bottom line: You see a "shot"...don't think photograph it, get it on film, card to have so you can decide later what you do or don't like. Street Photography is the blank canvas there in front of us at that moment, we then use a camera to finish it.
On "the street" you often don't time to think(photograph it>think later)...so for me I keep my eyes open and that helps keep my mind open.(mostly)
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Old 02-17-2015   #76
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I've enjoyed this. Like the worst words in photography thread, a bit. And in that thread one of the worst words was indeed 'street'. Then you look at Saul Leiter's pictures.
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Old 02-17-2015   #77
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Most street photography = bad reportage without any depth or story.
I think Winogrand would have approved of that definition Bob.
He always maintained that a photograph had no narrative ability (non of them) and only showed you what things looked like ... to a camera .
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Old 02-17-2015   #78
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Most street photography = bad reportage without any depth or story.
The rest is merely voyeuristic or cheap visual gags.

What's left after the above has been removed is quite good.
Here's what Winogrand had to say about story telling:
from about 1:26 on...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tl4f-QFCUek
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Old 02-17-2015   #79
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As a practice I do not actively photograph "homeless"...but I have had many come up to me and ask to photographed. Some rules should be "pushed" while others should simply NOT be rules. The bottom line: You see a "shot"...don't think photograph it, get it on film, card to have so you can decide later what you do or don't like. Street Photography is the blank canvas there in front of us at that moment, we then use a camera to finish it.
On "the street" you often don't time to think(photograph it>think later)...so for me I keep my eyes open and that helps keep my mind open.(mostly)
Agree....

For me thinking happens before and after not during. What you do and how deep your work is depends on how well you have developed your instincts.
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Old 02-17-2015   #80
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Here's what Winogrand had to say about story telling:
from about 1:26 on...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tl4f-QFCUek

Yes ...for me ...that sums it all up.
That`s how I feel about it anyway .
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