Street photography is a very popular genre right now, but it is nothing new. Award-winning photographer Joel Meyerowitz started his photography career in the early ’60s when photographers like Diane Arbus and Lee Friedlander were roaming the sidewalks of urban communities.
In a video by Phaidon Press, Joel shares some of the most fundamental elements of street photography. “What you put in and what you leave out [of the frame] are what determines the meaning … of the photograph,” he explains. With an artistic vision that goes beyond simply creating perfect “copies” of real life, he describes how even those elements outside the frame can impact what’s inside and how SLR cameras are at a significant disadvantage for street photography work.
Street photography is more than just snapping random images or perfectly-framed subjects. It has been Joel’s practice that “[w]hat you put in the frame and where you cut the rest of the 360-degree arch” is more important than focusing on a single subject. His work often aims to explore the symbiotic and often paradoxical relationship between random people and events.
While many people may wish to somehow conform street photography to a set of rules and standards, at its core, it is one of the most flexible genres in existence and cannot be put into a box. It is a place where photographers have complete creative control. In the end, you make the rules.