On being real

I look at a lot of street photography. It is the thing I am most interested in, generally speaking, when I go looking for inspiration.

I am exhausted. Exhausted by clever framing of people in front of well placed signage, oddly composed angels, tricky geometrics, stern third world or homeless people's, portraits, subjects looking down the lens, a little off centre with a crusty wall behind and I am tired of rainy windows, shadows, silhouettes and reflections. I loved these looks when I first saw them*, but that was a while ago and all those that came after just fall flat with me. 

Street photography is a broad and hard to quantify art form, but it must not fall into a sameness that will tarnish it's value.

In my last post, I stated that my "style" was often based on interactions of people. I will go a bit further and say, that my style is actually just humble reality. It is an image that transcends trickery, ignores fads. It is timeless, but of time. I want to see real interactions, not cold abstractions of people glancing off the composition. I want life in it's true form or the beauty of simple things seen honestly, quietly. I want happiness, not despair and I want to see the genuine humour shared by two people, not the observers ironic humour stolen from their actions. I don't think it is necessary to interact personally with my subject, in fact I prefer not to, but I need to see their humanity.

 Pen F 17mm

Pen F 17mm

One of the reasons a lot of the huge crop of current street photographers were not included as examples when I posted "On (pre) visualising foundations", is because they do not inspire me to match or better them (once, but not any more!). I don't think I am better than these guys, I just do not see any point in doing what they do as it does not satisfy me. The better exponents of the end of last century and some contemporary artists who quietly observe, understand and treasure their subjects are the ones I respond to, but please, no more copy-cat juxtapositions. 

What am I going to do about it? Try my hardest to ignore these image making habits and see higher than the base grab or the "set and wait" shots, so hungrily hunted by others. I want to see first and foremost the people I am photographing doing real things, not their abstract impression inserted into an environment as tools for humour and/or coincidence. Heaven forbid I do it just to show how clever I am.

This look will not last. It is a style of it's time and destined to be tagged as such. Just like the aged Polaroid look or cartoony HDR it will fade. Apart from that, the simple act of clever, reflex image making is going to take a huge hit soon. When technology nullifies skill**, only subject relevance and respect for that subject will matter. 

There are no cliche's in honesty.

Had enough? Fair cop, me to.

Travel well.

*Saul Leiter, David H Wells, Jan Meisner, Sam Abel etc.

** There are already 6K (18mp) cameras shooting at 30fps and "reversing to the previous # of seconds", buffer capture cameras already available and this only going to become more common. Editing will be the future push.