Monday, 10 January 2011

‘Street Photography Now’

‘Street Photography Now’, by Sophie Howarth & Stephen McLaren, published 2010 by Thames & Hudson, is a collection of images by leading protagonists of this genre, supported with four ‘essays’ from the authors, brief notes on each photographer, and some dialogue from a discussion between seven of them.  It was published around the time that I started out on this course, and has obviously proved to be a popular book because it took me some weeks to get a copy through Amazon.  I have spent some time working my way through it and found it to be quite a useful source of thoughts and ideas in connection with ‘People Unaware’.
Some of the photographers whose work I have particularly noted are the following (some of them being totally new to me):
·         Christophe Agou whose ‘Life Below’ is reminiscent of Luc Delahaye’s L’Autre that I mentioned earlier in my log, which is in turn reminiscent of Walker Evans’ subway project, of course.  That led me to look at more of his work here   It was also interesting to read his short written pieces on this site & I particularly note that his work comes across to me as very personal, as an emotional response to the world.  I also see that he has a new collaborative project ‘Face au Silence’ coming out in 2011.
·         Melanie Einzig, whose work I seem to have missed before, looks to be very much in the tradition of New York street photography, with Winogrand, Meyerowitz etc; colourful, witty, strong observations of people.  I find her reference to street photography involving ‘wandering’ – which also comes up in the discussion at the end of the book.  Her street work appears here
·         Osamu Kanemura is a surprise inclusion in my list.  His work is here  I havn’t always felt I could relate to Japanese photography, and I have always tended to favour colour, but I really like his high contrast, complex images of Japanese street scenes.  I suppose, in some ways, with few people in the images, they almost fit into the landscape context – certainly more into the ‘Place’ side of this course than the ‘People’.  I find their chaotic complexity attractive – so many wires and cables and shadows, a bit like a Jackson Pollock painting.
·         Trent Parke I certainly had seen before, but not necessarily looked at closely - - fantastic use of light and shadow.
·         Bruno Quinquet’s ‘Salaryman’ project - - is a kind of photographic diary of Japanese businessmen, but always ‘anonymous’, with their faces obscured, blurred, distorted, or some such, so that they are unrecognisable.  I like some of the very clever framing and composition.
·         Paul Russell is very much in the British tradition of the likes of Tony Ray Jones.  Subtlety, gentle humour, as can be seen here
·         Peter Funch is totally new to me - - and the book has some images from his ‘Babel Tales’ series, where he has produced ‘constructed’ street images.  It looks as though he, in simplistic terms (though the work certainly isn’t simple!) photographs people doing similar things, in the same place, and then combines the individual images of people into the same street scene.  He captures several ‘moments’ and combines them to construct a ‘moment’ that never happened, but which nonetheless has something significant to observe about human behaviour ‘in the street’.
There is great breadth and variety in this book; loads of inspirational work and ideas that make you want to get out and have a go.
Actually, I have been out and ‘had a go’, and I am going to put some of the results in here shortly.

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