Richard Sandler

Book Review Why street photography?

© Richard Sandler

“The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street.”

Robert Doisneau


─── Josh Bright, April 3, 2020

Since the early twentieth century, the medium’s greatest practitioners have sought to capture the oddities and intrigue of their surroundings, through candid, unposed imagery, which collectively conveys the diverse tapestry of quotidian life; it is a format which today enjoys unprecedented popularity, and one that is widely known as: ‘Street Photography’.

black and white street photograph of woman and pigeons by Rui Palha
Portugal, 1953 © Rui Palha

 

Street Photographers: Why Street Photography? A new book published by Street Photographers – an online platform dedicated entirely to promoting and celebrating the format – seeks to answer this question, combining the work of some of the most renowned contemporary street photographers, with that of lesser-known up and coming practitioners, and presenting them alongside essays, interviews, and expositions which collectively offer a unique and absorbing examination of the genre.

 

Black and white street photograph of people on New York City street by Richard Sandler
© Richard Sandler
Color photograph of fox on escalator by Sam Rodgers
© Sam Rodgers
Color street photograph of women giving speech on beach with flags by Nick Hannes
© Nick Hannes


Divided into three parts, the book commences with both an in-depth article and a selection of works by acclaimed, New York City-based, visual-artist Richard Sandler, whose utterly compelling depictions of everyday life in New York City over the last four decades, serve as charming and fascinating mementos of their time, and display brilliantly the rich potential of the format.

This is followed by an interview with British photographer Matt Stuart, who, informed by a deep fascination with people and their everyday routines, has spent much of the last two decades wandering the streets of London, capturing brightly-hued, witty renderings that together, convey the rich theatre of everyday life in the city and collectively embody the unique wit and veracity so often associated with the genre.

Color street photograph of pigeon and mens feet on the street in London by Matt Stuart
© Matt Stuart

 

Finally, the triennial part comprises 51 compelling ‘street’ images, each one captured by a different, contemporary photographer, including Jesse Marlow, Troy Holden, Stefano Mirabella and Nick Hannes and accompanied both by a description of their depictions and their responses to the question, Why Street Photography?

Color Street Photograph of people on Oxford Street, London by Matt Stuart
© Matt Stuart
Color street photograph of elderly women arguing by Paul Russell
© Paul Russell

 

From minimalist urban scenes filled with angular, monochromatic shadows, to flashes of prismatic color in unexpected settings; semi-abstract renderings pervaded with dynamic movement and stratified reflections, to candid, humour-tinged moments in everyday settings, the diverse selection of imagery encompasses a gripping cross-section of the genre, and brilliantly displays its unique beauty and rich potential, whilst the accompanying prose serves as a fascinating compendium, offering unique insights into the minds of some of its most masterful contemporary exponents, and provides commentary as to why street photography remains so prevalent today.

Black and white photograph of man feeding swans and ducks by Marcin Ryczek
© Marcin Ryczek


“ To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”
– Elliott Erwitt

Why Street Photography? is available now via the Street Photographers Foundation.

street photography book cover