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by Genghis


Photography can be perceived as an art that is a tug of war that is waged by polar opposites. On one side of the metaphorical rope, we have the aesthetic, championed by unbridled beauty. This is represented by landscape and flower photography, as examples. Pulling from the opposite direction, is the photography of the seedy side of civilized life, as is manifested by photography that is peoplecentric---this is street photography. Make no mistake about it, though. The type of peoplecentric photography that is pulling for its very life and soul on that desperate end of the rope, is street photography---not to be confused with less spontaneous types of people photography that wrap themselves around photogenic models and flattering portraiture. This is not to say that aesthetics cannot be melded into street photography, for competent street photography has as one of its attributes, clean and disciplined composition. The driving force behind powerful street photography is however, emotional content.

While landscape photography and such is rewarding in its own way, the inquisitive personality of the street photographer causes that photographer to be more demanding of himself or herself---to head out into the seedy streets of great metropolises to record the sad, the absurd and the emotionally powerful to satisfy his or her hunger to transcend mere empty beauty in the street photographer's pursuit of creating his or her art. Street photography does require a mindset of interactive clarity. It is the clarity of determination to not settle for the "easy" subject, that which will cooperate and be statically compliant. It is the challenge of shooting moving targets, that drives street photographers to execute their craft. It is the pursuit of uncovering and then recording the emotional content of the moment,in the context of the existing environment. That environment provides the canvas for decent composition, and the crux of the human condition centers the photographic piece with emotional qualities that appeal to the viewing eye.

Street photographers are an exclusive club. Not many in the photographic world, would like to shoot the good, the bad and the ugly. Many more are driven to worship beauty for beauty's sake. The pursuit of beauty in photography is easier than street photography, yet lacking in gratification for the dyed in the wool street photographer. Street photographers are always seeking that edge that the practice of their art provides. It is like an addictive drug, to be on the edge with street subjects, to create edgy photography, to celebrate photography as an art with a sharp edge. The softer edge that other genres of photography offer, are clearly not enough for street photographers. For street photographers, that softer satisfaction is like a bland meal after becoming accustomed to spicy fare. It is like driving a minivan, after piloting a rip snortin' hot rod that smokes the tires. It is in short, inadequate.

Many street photographers would not admit this self-evident truth, but here it is: hardcore street photographers crave the thrill of confrontation on the street, for it gives street photographers the means to use their skills in handling these situations. These situations do not exist in other genres of photography. Only street photography can satisfy this jonesing. I'll state the obvious: after experiencing street photography, all others genres offer no comparable challenge.