Street Photography

Having looked at this weeks reading I have decided to look at London street photographers. The image below was taken by Paul Martin. He was one of the first street photographers to use a disguised camera so as to capture the true essence of his subjects. [1] Martin has managed to capture the nature of the children without disturbing their environment or using the camera as a tool to manipulate them. However, there are other ways in which the image could be said to have been manipulated. Although it does not appear to be cropped, Steve Jacobs argues that the empty space surrounding the subjects suggests alienation and isolation which contradicts the earlier images produced by street photographers who were trying to capture the hustle and bustle of the metropolis. [2]

Rosemary Hawker argues that modern street photography has transformed and ordinary and banal into the extraordinary. [3] However, it does tend to mix both portraiture and the idea of a ‘snap shot’ to create an image of the seemingly ‘every day’. Walter Benjamin noted that modern cameras are getting smaller and smaller, enabling the photographer to capture ‘fleeting and secret images’. [4]


[2] Steven Jacobs, ‘Amor Vacui: Photography and the image of the empty city’, History of Photography 30:2 (2006), p. 118.

[3] Rosemary Hawker, ‘Repopulating the street: Contemporary photography and Urban experience,’ History of Photography, 37.3, (2013), p. 345.

[4] Walter Benjamin, ‘Little History of Photography’ p. 527.


One Response to “Street Photography”

  1. You might also like the Mass Observation Project. Although not London, still fabulous photographs of urban street life. Also check out Bill Brandt’s London photographs.

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