Street Photography Canon

In the last month I have read the "Complete Street Photography Canon". In no particular order.

These are three very different books with a common thread. The first is a collection of photographs taken by a young photographer on his travels around the world. It is hard to know which of these shots was made "on assignment" and which because this is what the man did, take pictures. These times, the '30's and '40's, were the birth of the picture magazine as we know it.

He established the soul and heart of documentary still photography, he was making it up as he went along. I know there were many photographers who had worked in this genre before, as revealed in the second book in the list. HCB also made motion picture documentaries, notably of the Spanish Civil War. These were in black and white and filled with stunning images.

As with every great artist, HCB took what went before and promptly discarded it all. He became the standard by which all "Street Photography" is measured. He has influenced countless photographers and still casts a long, rich, detail filled shadow.

The second volume in the Canon is as titled, a history. It is a very well researched and edited story of street photography. The fascinating thread running through this book is the connected-ness that binds all street photographers. There is really nothing new, and everything is new. Each generation learns and each teaches. This book is filled with images and photographers that will be new and eye opening to you.

The last book is the most intensely focused and personal of the three. It is literaly a road trip, in the spirit of "the Americans" by Robert Frank, across the United States in 1964. We see much of the then current, culture, fashion and style. The pictures are not dated, they are still fresh and raw.

All of the pictures in this book are hard to look at and impossible not to. The color shots are as abstracted as the black and white. Abstracted in the sense of seeing something new and different in what is seen everyday. These are not abstract images, they are very real.

HCB's pictures are by his own admission, "I was here and this is what I saw", Winogrand's are like an unavoidable mirror held in your face forcing you to see what you might not choose to be shown.

I enjoyed all of the books and all are worth return visits and study. These three books as reference and inspiration, shooting as many pictures as possible, and a frequent, intellengent critique of your work will make you a better street photographer.