Street Photography: The meaning within the image

Here we are again talking about street photography and expanding our visions with the first of what we hope will be a long series of contributions. Thank you to Giovanni for taking time to write this post and share with us all his precious point of view on such an exciting side of photography. Hope you enjoy this reading as much as we loved it!

I believe being a street photographer it is innate within you to a degree, the ability to foresee events unfolding, put together certain elements, and have a vision for the defining element that will ‘make’ the image is vastly important, to some it comes naturally, to others through hard work and persistence, to some not at all. Not all images are about scenes, some are purely about characters, personalities, and personas, but the theory remains for me, the ability to ‘see’ people, really ‘see’ them is a rare gift. In my opinion what is most important is to stay true to your personal vision and create a body of work that expresses that to some degree expresses you.

For me street photography is pure instinct. ‘Gut’. That is why I love doing it, I’m not thinking when I’m doing it, I just shoot.

Much the same as viewing street photography, as with any art, some just do not see it, other profess to, especially if the photographer is well known, (nothing irritates me more), and there are those who instantly ‘feel’ what is being portrayed, or at least there take on it, which after all is what it is all about; for me an image is about evoking a response, an emotional response, or an affinity, if you manage to do that, then you have a great image. A fellow photographer and friend once said to me, “Never take images to please others, take images that please you” in doing so you remain true to yourself and your style, and as a result, people will feel that through your work.

In essence I am nothing more than a voyeur, I am there viewing the street that is the stage around me, the stage of human life, and all that happens on it, the mess that is day to day life on the streets, the situations, the people, the scenarios, and I’m part of it, I’m part of the mess, just another person, going about their business, doing what I do, lost in my own world, lost in the masses, with my own personal agenda to record it all, to record the mess.

The most important thing for me, is that no image is ever staged, no permissions sought, no contact is made at all, except for the image being captured the staging or heavy post production of images ‘just isn’t it’…

I never ask to take an image, or influence the events happening around me, it either happens or it doesn’t, I either capture it or I don’t, if I do great, if not…Well that’s the game that is street photography, the image that got away, the image that is left out there to be caught another day, when the time is right, it drives me to go out, and keep looking.

So the danger of street photography…..Someone takes offence to you having taken their picture….Well everything has its hazards, and this is street photography’s, but I never delete an image, NEVER, granted there have been rough moments, but I like to forget about them, the ratio is minimal in the scheme of things, it’s just how it goes, you couldn’t get the type of image I take if you asked permission, so this is the trade-off…You have to be comfortable with that if you want to shoot the streets.

Street photography is a strange genre in most respects, non more so than in the respect that the greats of ‘today’ will only really be discovered tomorrow, sure there are some big names out there currently, who have instant recognition, but generally I believe most of them have found success initially with images that encapsulated a ‘time’ or an ‘event’ and as a result have gained a following on recent works…But then there are thousands, even millions, of possibles, whose work could well be the masterpieces of tomorrow, total unknowns, recording the everyday events of a generation, this is one element that makes the genre so unique, Vivian Maier is a classic example.

So my style…..I’m not sure I could label it, I just try to capture what I see, and how I see it, the uniqueness of people, and what they do, the individuality, the strangeness, the emotion, the scenes we create by our mere interaction with those we know, those we don’t, and the inanimate objects around us day to day.  I don’t really follow or try to emulate the greats of yesterday or the greats of today, my style is my style, I go out on to the street and do what I do, there is no pre-meditation involved, no theme, no prior agenda, I just see where it all takes me, sometimes I wish I had a ‘set’ style, like the Bruce Gildens of the world, but then I guess it wouldn’t be me….And for me that’s is what it’s all about, the individuality, the personal element, and the meaning within the image, it has to mean something to me firstly, or what is the point of taking the image? That said, my favourite photographer is by far Jeff Mermelstein, his work in my opinion is pure genius and inspirational, his demeanour humble, yet his images some of the most powerful out there, for me he is one of the greats of all time.

So my obsession with street will continue, as it is an obsession, you have to be totally consumed by it, for it is a genre all by itself, and hopefully I can continue to share my passion and views of the world as I see it, and also share the way in which I do what I do with others.

Impressed by Giovanni’s style? Find him here:

Facebook 
You Tube
Twitter 
Website  (this is under construction)

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Do you like this series on steet photography? Would you like to share your point of view and you vision? Feel free to contact us, we’ll be very happy to collaborate with you and publish it here on our blog. Whether e few words or a long article, don’t be shy! Let your photography speak up!

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