What Makes Great Street Photography?

To put it simply, truth is what makes great street photography. Street photography is the pure vision of the world we live in. There are no professional models. There isn't any make up, costumes or set dressings. Street photography is the documentation of the time we live in.

Origins of Street Photography

Photography first emerged in the first half of the nineteenth century, but it wasn't until roughly the 1880s and 1890s that film speeds became advanced enough for a normal street scene to be captured (without having to use a long shutter speed that would normally result in blurs). Also around this time, the flash was developed, allowing the photographer to venture into areas that were once too dark for exposure.

Finding Interesting Images in the Ordinary World

Street photography requires the artist to find interesting images in the ordinary world. How a photographer determines what he will shoot is what makes him an artist. Street photography can be anything, but it's usually the photos that are interesting and show something never seen before. A lot of traveling and scouting is required on the photographer's part.

One popular subject of street photography is urban decay. Abandoned buildings that are falling apart have emotional impact over an audience because they show a glory time that has since passed.

Art Becoming History

As time passes on, street photography goes from being a piece of art to a historical document. An example of this is an 1848 photo of a country home on Manhattan's Broadway. This photo shows a wonderful home on top of a hill surrounded by a fence in what would eventually become a built up section of Manhattan. What might seem like ordinary street photography today will eventually become a window into the past, and that's what makes it great.