If street photography sometimes can turn out artworks, what is it that characterise such works and set them apart from both classical disciplines as painting and sculpture, and from the stream of average street photography?
Let us look at some basics before I answer questions related to this.
The first point to be made is this: Street photography is made with a technical device called a camera.
This technical device, whatever form it may take, have the capacity of fixing visual expressions. Such fixations have to be made in split seconds at the right time at the right place.
For street photographers such expressions are gathered from public life.
It is the overall characteristic that public life very seldom stands still. You have to take every single photo in a narrow window of two simultaneous movements: your own movement and the movement of that or those you are picturing.
On top of that you need to free your subjects from contexts that will destroy your photograph if you don’t keep them at low noise. You even have to compose your shot in way that the composition supports the overall expression.
That is really, really a tall order. Indeed a challenging task.
You do not have the chance of the painter or the sculpturer to come back after a break to erase some and add some. You do not have the benefit of the street documenter to come back the next day to do it all over. You do not have the opportunity of the landscape photographer to wait till the sun shines once more.
Street photography is a very different ballgame. It solely relies on your ability to see and to capture those rare moments that are there for an instance and will vanish forever thereafter.
You only have that split second window that either makes or breaks your photograph.
That is all you have got.
© Knut Skjærven.
Link to the original post at ON THE GO: Workbook for New Street Agenda.