Candid and Public: Street Photography

Just what is Street Photography? In short, street photography features subjects in public places in candid situations.  The subjects are usually unaware, although not always, and photos often capture life right as it happens in front of the photographer.  This gives the images a spontaneous and sometimes very intimate feel. While the term “Street Photography” brings to mind city scenes, these photographs don’t necessarily require the presence of a street or even an urban environment. The best way to think of these images is to see the photographer as an observer, preserving moments in time, of people’s everyday lives.

With the recent discovery of hundreds of prints by photographer Vivian Maier and the subsequent donation of these prints to the University of Chicago, there has been some renewed interest in street photography. Maier is notable not just for the fact that she took hundreds of photographs, but that these photographs are so evocative, yet remained unknown until around the time of her death.  The contents of her storage locker were purchased, the negatives and photos were discovered and published, and the rest is history.  Another New York street photographer, Arlene Gottfried, passed away recently, and her obituary in the New York Times noted that she was a “photographer who found the extraordinary in the ordinary.” Her photography was unknown to the larger public for most of her career, although her exhibition of black and white photographs in 2014 drew national and international attention. 

These are just two of the many photographers whose work you may find in the Library’s books.  Whether you are curious about Diane Arbus, Vivian Maier, or would like to try some street photography of your own, the Library has a wealth of books, including these titles:
Vivian Maier

Humans of New York                          The Photographs of Homer Page
Street Photography                             The Street Photographer's Manual

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