I think over familiarity with our surroundings can be counter productive and lead to a devaluation of the everyday. We only have to carry out a little research into street photography and we’ll soon discover that if this attitude had been adopted by other practitioners, then the cultural archive avaliable to us would be pretty thin on the ground. Street photography underlines the fact that society and its moral and physical fabric never stagnates. Aspects of this may change subtley, sometimes repeat and often we can witness reapproriation but there’s a continual morphing to ‘the norm’.
A good degree of patience is required in this type of photography, not only in time spent searching for imagery, but also waiting for that indeterminate period of time to pass before a particular shot changes its emphasis from ‘this is now’ to an alternative one of ‘that was then’. I feel these two images demonstrate the point.
At face value, and dependent on your personal take on these shots, they may not seem that remarkable. In some ways the inherent understatement seen in both is actually their strength. I have walked past innumerable amounts of people engaged in similar activities and never felt the need to record the event. However, with the potential absorption of digital technology in to headgear I was forced to re-evaluate matters.
The selfie is currently a hot topic, with politicians brought in to the conversation whether they like the context or not. In addition digital tablets and smartphones are currently handheld, as I look at the images here I have to consider what similar social interactions will look like in five, ten or twenty years time? This is one of the reasons that I get excited about street photography, there’s an investment of time with an unpredictable outcome. Irksome and or demotivating to some perhaps however, the mere fact that a question mark hangs over certain images is an aspect of the process that I find both fascinating, compelling and motivating.
The image below is not a homage to John Baldessari, the identities have been removed to illustrate how the many cultural signifiers become more apparent in a shot if the faces are removed. This note taking in image form is another reason why I think street photography is important.
In both cases it would have been impossible to capture the shots having asked permission. So here’s the question. Are any of these images an intrusion of privacy?