I was living in Bangkok when I decided to pursue photography more seriously. I didn’t know what a rangefinder was; I never heard of Henri Cartier-Bresson; and I don’t think I was familiar with the term “street photography.” All I knew is that I was naturally motivated to go outside and photograph my surroundings, which happened to be urban.
As I coursed my way through the history of photography, I also found particular interest in Cartier-Bresson, Garry Winogrand, Elliott Erwitt, Robert Frank, Gordon Parks, William Eggleston, and others who focused on humanity (somewhat ironic given my quasi-misanthropy and introversion). Of course, I enjoyed photographs from all other genres, as a good photograph is a good photograph. But “street”, in all of its semantical ambiguity, was my fit.
That is, I love cities, and I love photographing them.
This said, street photography, right down to the term itself, is one of the most scrutinized and criticized of all photographic styles: Its proliferation over the past decade, its artsy pretense that garners online praise for uninspired simplicity, its rude intrusiveness, its fawning derivativeness, its banality…so much hostility.
Some of the criticism is legitimate, most of it can be applied to all styles of photography, while a good chunk of it is so ridiculous that it’s tantamount to chastising portrait photography for showing too many faces, landscape for showing too many mountains, and wildlife for showing too many animals.
But whether the vilification is warranted or not, urban photography, or photography of life, is what I’m going to do...ain't no generalist in this matter.
RFF, the best joint to get your fill of rangefinder bashing!