I am often reflecting on why I love street photography so much. Wondering why I chose the gritty roads and paths over the clean lighting and design of a modern studio. Many points suggest it may because I am crazy - I mean you have to be a little crazy to want to spend countless hours walking around trying to get even a slight shot of worth, often with much failure.I explored the positives; fun to travel, interacting with new people, settles your mind, being only a few of the many examples. I also like the constant change of street photography. Which resulted in me asking; is street the most diverse genre of photography?
When I look at other genres of photography, I am seldom excited. Sure I can appreciate a wonderful landscape or an emotive portrait, but I have no enthusiasm for taking such images. Take studio for example. For me, the process is too repetitive. You set up your lights, take in your subject, have a dialogue and take the frame. Next. I am not saying it is an easy thing to do, I wrote extensively here about the absolute skill of portraiture - What I learned from Platon - however I do feel there isn’t deeper level of change within the medium, something that is vital for my photographic fulfilment.
I then look at it as a consumer. I am someone who loves to admire all the great work from other street photographers. From the hobbyists to the masters, I can spend hours digesting all the wonderful work that is being created. I then search for landscape photos and see a copious amounts of images looking something like this..
Sure it is pretty, no doubt breathtaking in real life, but this kind of set up and style really are ten a penny.
Here is another example.
How many times have you seen this shot? It probably has a different photographers name beside it each time you saw it. The amount of times I have walked through London and seen photographers line up with their tripods and filters all waiting to take the exact same shot is uncountable.
Why is street so diverse?
There are so many variables to human behaviour. In street you could have one photographer focusing on what a person is wearing, whilst the other picks up on the subtle changes in body language which can dictate the story of the shot. We as street photographers are all seeing things differently. We are documenting our world according to how we see it. We walk miles on end and are able to get a shot in just a split second along the way. I am struggling to think of another form of photography that can offer this.
Yes, like any genre there are cliches. We have all taken the “interesting subject next to interesting wall” shot at some point on our journey, we at least put our own spin on it. At its rawest deepest form, street photography has it all. It has portraiture, it has events, it can even have landscape in it if you do it well. And as street photographers we are showing our own eye in many different locations. We are not all going to the exact same spot to take the exact same shot.
For these reasons I answer yes; street is the most diverse genre of photography.