Street Photography by Kamal Naser

What is Street Photography?


Street photography is a genre of photography that features subjects in candid situations within public places and does not necessitate the presence of a street or even the urban environment. ‘Street’ simply refers to a place where human activity can be seen, a place to observe and capture social interaction. The subject can even be absent of any people and can be that of object or environment where an object projects a human character or an environment is decidedly human. Framing and timing are key aspects of the craft, with the aim of creating images at a decisive or poignant moment. Alternatively, the street photographer may seek a more prosaic depiction of the scene, as a form of social documentary.”

When the term was invented by a photographer or a group of photographers at one time in history, that term fit the emerging genre perfectly. Photographers needed a way to distinguish the types of Photography that existed at the time so this term was perfect. It said clearly that it was the type of Photography taken by Photographers of the street. Photographers of the street or Street Photographers would walk the streets and people would ask them to take their photos. So they would setup their large cameras, take the photos of people and move on. They would do this for a living. This was what a Street Photographer was back then. A person that would walk the streets and get paid to take street portraits. Everyone had to be still for a good photo to be captured, so most if not all Street Photography was posed.

As technology advanced and time went by, Street Photographers became more agile. Large format cameras were used more and more in Studios and also for the emerging Landscape photography genre. Portable 35mm cameras were used for outside work. Leica, Rollei, Kodak, and more portable cameras started to make their appearance and Street Photography became less posed and more realistic. Things changed again and Photographers of the Street a.k.a. Street Photographers as they were called then, learned new skills and started using Studios for Portraits with controlled lights, but used portable cameras for taking photos on the go, in the streets, for magazines and newspapers of the time – This was the birth of Photojournalism. During the World Wars photography was essential and the portable 35mm cameras managed to capture amazing moments that wouldn’t be possible with large format cameras.