What is referential street photography? What does a referential photograph look like?
In New Street Agenda we speak of contextual photography. From contextual street photography to referential street photography, the jump is not big. There are differences, though. Let’s look at it.
In contextual street photography you treat subjects in a context. Meaning they are distinctly among other things or other people. That spurs the element of storytelling.
Referential street photography builds on top of that. It points to a distinct reference, or connection, made in your photograph. Could be a reference between people. Could be a reference between people and objects.
Referential photography is always contextual, but contextual photography does not have to be referential.
The reference needs to be there for all to see. Not a little and implied reference that is only seen by the photographer.
A reference does not have tell a story actually taking place in front of you when shooting. It can as well be a story told by you by selecting the scene and framing your image.
There are plenty of examples of referential street photography in the workbook. Let me point to a few:
In BIKE BENEFIT (next picture) you see two persons. They are in reference. The main reference is the biker looking at the woman passing, who in return projects her sexuality back upon him. In BOOKSHOP (past picture) the two women are in reference because of their closeness and similarity. But also because of their differences. They are of the same gender, but of different age, style and culture.
To be in reference means to establish a virtual connection between two or a few significant parts in a photograph. You make this reference so strong that even Occam would be in no doubt about it.
© Knut Skjærven
Link to the original post at ON THE GO: Workbook for New Street Agenda.