Slightly controversial topic but interesting nonetheless, some people think of it as an art, some think of it as journalism and there are some who thinks of it as invasion of privacy, which camp are you in? Regardless of where you place your self, and I am sure there are many other view points out there, you can’t deny the captivating power that some photographs have, be it due to sheer luck or talent.
Observing other people in their daily lives is somewhat entertaining and partially learning experience, at least in my case. IT is hard to read in the books about cultural aspects that are not obvious to the external observer and can only be “felt” when present at the scene. Photography is not always capable to reflect the exact, or in some cases imagined, atmosphere that build the full picture.
Take for example wait in a ling line, lets say in the Disney Land, you could keep yourself busy browsing the internet or reading book, but you could also just relax and observe interactions between the people. Granted, you will not always see anything worthy and in more frequent circumstances you will find yourself watching other people fondling with their smartphones or reading books. There are always other observers, who find nothing else to do but to watch other people, also an interesting scene seeing them trying act naturally but being obvious at the same time.
In other cases you might find yourself lucky and be able to observe emotions in play, be it love, hate, fear or anger, and that is something I find worth the time waiting. Humans are in general really good at identifying slightest of variations in human face, posture and behavior. More you look and observe, more you can find about yourself, which is probably one of the biggest mysteries in our own eyes. Countless times I have found examples of my behavior in other people, that allowed me to analyze them closer from the external observer perspective. That helped me to self-develop further and enrich my human skills.
Going back to the topic at hand, street photography (in my opinion) is not about recording your private lives, it is not to make an example out of you or others, it is not a documentary about your life, what it is, is an expression of artist’s vision (photographer in this case) that is intrigued by his own species and their behavior in their natural habitat. It is impossible to capture natural emotions by asking person to pose for the shot or worse yet, asking for their permission. People would attempt to present themselves in the best light they can. That is not what this “sport” is about, and your best light might not be your best after all, it is about the emotions at play, interactions among people and their natural behavior.
Next time you see some “poor soul” (street photographer) walking with the camera and observing people, do not hid mush attention and just walk on your merry way, it will keep surrounding natural and undisturbed. When you are in public places, you are already observed by thousands of eyes, one appearance on the photograph should not make much more differences, unless you are unto something not good and trying to keep low profile.
The photograph you see in the title of this post, was taken on the streets of San Francisco, CA, and it was just by a chance and me being a tourist with the camera ready to fire. I did not make it obvious that I was taking a picture but I did not hide either. Some may like it, some may not, but I am not seeking anyones approval or appraisal, I like it as it is already. Happy shooting and do not forget to bring you camera with you.