Street Photography Now
As an athlete needs to work out to improve his fitness and his form, photographers need to do the same. The athlete’s way to work out is on the track or in the gym, but for photographers, photo books are our equivalent of the gym. We train our eyes by practicing every day and by studying photos. To this end, I ordered Street Photography Now. I have always been fascinated by street photography but I am incredibly bad at it. I am not shy to approach people and shoot them, but I simply see things too late. So it is with this book that I want to try and study a little bit more on street photography and train my eye some more.
Street Photography Now was written by Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLaren. It was published in 2010 by Thames & Hudson. The book is a compilation of 46 street photographers from around the world, showing some of their best work. Although the book is a soft cover, the quality of the paper and the prints in the book all look and feel very nice. The book also includes four essays about the current state of street photography and the challenges that street photographers face. Some of the essays are interesting to read but some feel long-winded. But I doubt that anyone is buying this book for the quality of the writing. It is the photos that we care about.
And this is where the problems begin. Each photographer only gets a few photos in the book, so it is hard to really exam the work of the photographer before you meet someone new. Judging photos is highly subjective, but I find some of the work in the book to be excellent and some of it to be really average. The standards for good photos tend to vary all over the place but I wish there was more consistency to the overall quality of the photos. The book really tries to exhibit 46 different street photographers from around the world and I think this is what lets the book down. If they had narrowed down the selection then they could have shown us more than 2 or 3 photos per photographer.
One aspect that I enjoyed about the book was the use of quotes above some of the photos. I understand that when the book came out, the quotes were basically stolen from street photography blogs, but I still enjoyed seeing them. Sometimes it added a lot to the overall presentation of the images you were looking at.
I enjoyed paging through the book much more than I did reading the essays. There are some really good black and white photos in the book that I enjoyed. Would I recommend this book to other people? Well, that depends. If that person was interested in street photography, then yes I would. But if that person had no interest in street photography then I would advise the person to skip this book as some of the photos seem more like snapshots than really well-composed images.
Here is a quick time lapse through the book.