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by Genghis


A component-subject in street photography is a human subject that is subsumed to the framework of the larger composition, as opposed to a street photo where the subject dominates the composition. The composition that includes a subject as merely a component of the larger whole, treats the essence of the person as subordinate to the greater good of the piece. The emotional element exuded by such a composition is quite low to missing in intensity, whereas the emotional content of a composition where the subject dominates the photo is intensely high. Each subtype of street photography subject matter is in its own way, difficult to achieve. Component-subjects require an aesthetic sense which lends itself to compositional competence. Subject-dominant subjects require seeking out people to photograph, who exhibit the emotional traits which we are attempting to demonstrate in a momentary exposure, and the gumption it takes to shoot these people at close proximities.

In some ways, street photographs where the subject is a subservient component to the overall composition is the more difficult undertaking, because it requires the creation of deliberate composition in situations where speed is of the essence in making the exposure as mentally previsualized. Where people subjects are concerned, a delay in capturing the moment may cause the loss of the picture because the subject may unexpectedly move away from his or her designated spot within the composition. On the other hand the subject-dominant type photo is easier to achieve from this perspective, because this type of photo requires shooting from a closer distance than the component-subject type. This type of subject can be framed more directly from a close distance with less concern about the surroundings' importance to the overall composition., and less worries about the positioning of the subject relative to the rest of the composition because the subject will fill more of the frame from that close distance. It should be understandable why a wide angle lens is a necessity for such street shooting.

Many street photographers have not made competent composing a high priority. As a result, much of street photography shows sloppy composition that uses the spontneous and haphazard nature of "capturing the moment" as an excuse for a lack of aesthetic design and compositional concern. Deliberate and aesthetically pleasing composition should always be a concern for competent street photographers. It is good composing that makes street photography a legitimate art, versus an endeavor that struggles with the age old question: Is photography an art? Only artful composition can make a photo art. "OFF THE GRID" is an example of component-subject street photography, where the woman is subordinate to the strong white lines that define the composition's parameters. Focus was preset to seven feet using the distance scale of the 20mm lens' focusing ring. With this type of artfully composed street photo, the emotional content of the subject is unimportant. As a mere element of the picture accentuated by the white lines and the rest of the environs, the overall composition makes the statement. With "Off The Grid" the strong vertical line of the woman paralleling the vertical frame and lines receding into the background, create the buzz in the brain. It is line and form that buy the groceries here, not emotion.


"IRRADIATED" is an exmaple of the subject-dominant street photo. Emotion and attitude---good or bad according to the personal perspective and interpretation of the viewer---spills off of the man in palpable waves. Typically, such subject-dominant pictures pack an emotional wallop due to the close shooting distance. They hit you in the eye like a big pizza pie, baby! The emotional content of street photos can be so strong, it can seem to be three dimensional. This picture was taken from three feet away from the subject using a 20mm lens. This type of subject-dominant photo is hard to obtain because the photographer shoots from such close proxmity to the subject. It does however, require less thought than the component-subject that has to be positioned in a more deliberate fashion in relation to the rest of the framing. While subject-dominant photography requires huge resevoirs of courage because one has to be so close to the person when making the exposure, component-subject photography requires a greater artistic sense. Pick your poison. Later.