Street Photography

Street photography is an art photography that usually features people within public places and does not necessitate the presence of a street or even the urban environment. The subject of the photograph might be absence of people and can be an object or environment where the image projects a decidedly human character in facsimile or aesthetic. The origin of the term 'Street' refers to a time rather than a place, a time when women achieved greater freedom, when workers were rewarded with leisure time and when society left the privacy of their sitting rooms, people engaged with each other and their surroundings more publicly and therein the opportunity for the photographer.

Framing and timing are key aspects of the craft, with the aim of creating images at a decisive or poignant moment. Much of what is now widely regarded, stylistically and subjectively, as definitive street photography was made in the era spanning the end of the 19th Century through to the late 1970s; a period which saw the emergence of portable cameras.

Street photographers create fine art photography (including street portraits) by capturing people in public places, often with a focus on emotions displayed by people in public, as in public display of affection between lovers or a parent caring for his or her children, thereby also recording people's history from an emotional point of view. Social documentary photographers operate in public places documenting people and their behavior in public places for recording people's history and other purposes. Several legal cases in the United States and other countries, for example the Nussenzweig v. DiCorcia case, have established that taking, publishing and selling street photography (including street portraits) is legal without any need for the consent of those whose image appears in the photos, because photography is protected as free speech and artistic expression by the First Amendment in the US and the Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights in the European Union. The issue of street photographers taking photos of strangers in public places without their consent (which is the definition of candid photography) for fine art purposes has been controversial in some countries, notably France, even though France was the home of several well-known street photographers in past and present, for example Henri Cartier-Bresson.

"Street Photography Now" is an excellent book by Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLaren.
Published by Thames and Hudson, London (2010)