Usually, street photographs tell a little story about people in an urban setting—but always with a twist or surprise, and always with a feeling of spontaneity. I’m not sure how well I've met those criteria—I’m still learning. I selected these photos from hundreds I took in Waltham during the period, 2018–2020, before I had any idea what street photography was all about.
To learn more, I turned to Wikipedia, which offers a good discussion of street photography, defining it broadly as, "…photography conducted for art or enquiry that presents unmediated chance encounters and random incidents within public spaces."
Despite the words, "unmediated chance encounters," most practitioners will tell you that street photographs do not have to be anonymous, that is, taken without the subject’s knowledge. There can be interaction between the photographer and subject, as, for example, when a photographer asks for permission to take a picture—producing what some call, "cooperating candids." For photographers worried about privacy, I suggest asking for permission—with a smile. You may be surprised how often you get a "Yes," either verbally or by a nod of the head.
As a bonus, you have an opening for further interaction with the subject, if you wish. Some of the best and most famous street photographs resulted from just such interaction. And they were achieved with the subject remaining "unmediated," that is, without loss of spontaneity. A good example is the cover photo of this post.
Many of these photos I first published on Bēhance in color, but I converted them to black-and-white for this project. Why? Color has such power over our senses, that it can overwhelm the story in the picture, and the story gets lost. There is a long tradition of black-and-white street photos, from Eugène Atget and Henri Cartier-Bresson in the early days of photography down to our present era. The noted Canadian photojournalist, Ted Grant, famously wrote, "When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls."
There’s been a great deal written about street photography, much of it posted on the internet, along with the work of famous street photographers. It’s all just a few clicks away for those who want to learn more about this fascinating subject. A good place to start, I suggest, is the blog post by Eric Kim, What is Photography?