Turn Back Time
Like other forms of photography, street photography has trends that come and go, but we perhaps most closely associate street photography with monochrome images shot in the 1 940s, 50s, or 60s. There is something about pictures from that era that we find fascinating, and when you mention “street photography” to most people, these are the images they think of first.
The aim of this assignment is to try and recreate this “Golden Age” of street photography through a combination of observation and technique.
- To start with, consider the subject matter: you need to include detail indicative of a past age (for example, clothing, signage, or buildings), while leaving out any contemporary references (a new car or the McDonald’s sign).
- Then, think about your shooting style. All those iconic images were shot on film, so try to replicate the look, either in monochrome or color. The obvious option here is to shoot using film, but you could also shoot digitally using very little, if any, post-production.
- Finally, think about the story or narrative. Try to show what life was like “back then;’ using as much context as possible.
View the images
- If you are shooting digitally, set your viewfinder or LCD screen to monochrome; this colorless view of the world will help you visualize how your final image could look (it is also a great aid to composition, removing the distractions that color often brings).
- When evaluating a street scene, look for interesting detail that points to an earlier age, such as an old-fashioned hat or a traditional shop front.
- For inspiration, look at images shot in the middle part of the last century and think how you could achieve a similar look and feel. What techniques were used?
- Go back to basics and use a very simple set up. Get into the spirit of the era by using manual exposure and manual focusing-if you have an old film camera, even better!
- Timeless images needn’t be confined to black and white-there has been some iconic color work produced from the 1 g5os onward.
- If you want a great example of timeless street photography, look at The Americans by Robert Frank.