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Just a little bit too uncritical
on 28 October 2013
Street photography is clearly not easy. The shifting composition of the street, the difficulty of getting close enough (but maybe not too close), and the modern suspicion of photography in public places all combine to make it a challenge.
This rather good book looks at the work of a number of street photographers, who all meet these, and other challenges, in a variety of ways to produce a body of varied and interesting work.
There are a number of longer chapter that explore the "philosophy" of street photography, as well as shorter accounts of the specific works of each photographer. So far so good.
Many of the pictures are really interesting - full of great composition, found humor and visual puns. And even on repeat viewing (and reading) I found things I had not noticed before. Still so good so far.
But I can help wonder about some of the images here. Some of the pictures seem to be about the power of the photographer to show people in as ugly a light as possible; the awkward looks on peoples faces, the distortion caused by short focal length lenses, the broken clothes. Here the power rests with the photographer who seems to be saying -"look at these" and of course, "don't look at me, because I am not like that".
I am not suggesting that street photography should be all about cute dogs and bunches of flowers, but the ethic of ugliness seems to go unchallenged.
This is an interesting book that I would recommend - but I think some sections would benefit from a more critical eye.