I have always been fascinated by thoughts that had the ability of making complex things simple.
There are not so many around any more. It seems that many figure that since practical reality is so varied, so must everything else be too. In our time, as in many times before us, nothing is fixed and all seems to be able to take on different clothing.
Based on culture, based on eduction and experience, based on personal preference. Based on a variety of factors.
Variations are indeed what we experience, but it is not the ultimate way things belong. Variations are only there when you approach the world in a practical attitude of daily living and doing. In street photography it leads to the conclusion that there are no standards and everything is as valid as anything else.
As in photography at large.
And yet we all see the difference of high quality and not good quality. In all areas of life.
The interesting question is if there after all are some basic standards that carry everything else? I think there is.
For instance, reflect on this: What is the ultimate basis for objects in a photograph to be seen at all?
The answer is simple: If an object or a subject do not stand out from its surroundings, it cannot be seen. Like the black panther in the black tunnel, it cannot be seen. Like a blue butterfly against a blue sky, it cannot be seen. Like a white pearl on a woman’s white forehead, it cannot be seen.
The single basic element that must be there in any photography, even in any street photograph you bet, is contrast. Call it also standing out, call it also difference, call it also lack of similarity. When contrast is established things can be seen. For those wanting to theorise about it, everything starts here. For those carrying a camera everything should starts here too.
Here is a simple expression that will help you remember this. Phrased by Dante, quoted by Arnheim and repeated here: perla in bianca fronte. Pearl on a white forehead. Only to the extent that it lacks similarity will it be seen.
No more needed to be said apart from the simple fact that the simple principle of lack of similarity does not only govern your street photography or your photography, it governs the rest of your life too.
Think about it.
© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved.