As a response to an earlier post about Bill Brandt’s street photography, Steve Kenny and Jeanette DeMain provided some more inspirational street photographers to be worth looking at and they really are.
There is Jacob Riis, a Danish American who lived from 1849 to 1914. He is also called a social documentary photographer, trying to help the impoverished in New York City with his photographic and journalistic talent. So, he might be best characterized as a social reformer with a camera as his tool. His focus might not have been on composition and light in the artistic way, yet he saw a different light, the light in people and he wanted the light of these hidden away impoverished people and their life situation to be visible for all.
Swiss born and after World War II to the US emigrated photographer Robert Frank is another inspirational photographer, capturing the spirit of America in his book The Americans. He saw American life as overemphasized on money and America often as a bleak and lonely place (Wikipedia). While trying to capture the soul of America as he experienced it, he wielded a great artistic eye, reflecting in the composition of his photographs.
And then Dennis Hopper, an artistic multi talent. His snapping away is not only capturing famous people he was socializing and working with, his photographs also capture the spirit of time whenever he saw it. It might be even harder to acknowledge the photographic talent of Dennis Hopper when on most of his photographs are celebrities and one thinks its already a good photo because of that, yet they are also well composed and just taken at the right moment.
Between all these men finally a woman, Vivian Maier. Maier was a amateur street photographer who worked as a nanny in Chicago for 40 years. Her photographs remained unknown until they were discovered by John Maloof, a historian and collector only two years before she died. He said about Vivian Maier, “She was a Socialist, a Feminist, a movie critic, and a tell-it-like-it-is type of person. She learned English by going to theaters, which she loved. She wore a men's jacket, men's shoes and a large hat most of the time. She was constantly taking pictures, which she didn't show anyone.” Now look at her photos and see how great they are.
All these examples of great photographers, their journeys and their art can be of great inspiration to all of us. They show that art happens just in front of us, on our doorsteps, in our daily lives, we only need to start seeing it. And they show also that street photography is an important part of history, telling the story of time and people and sometimes they change the lives for some people too.
So, as mentioned in the earlier post, go out and snap away, make street photography part of your photography courses, go on photographic safari in your home town and find new Big 5 everyday!