We Can't Have It Both Way's !

Why is Street Photography still seen by the Art Photography community as the poor relation ?

Despite the high numbers of committed talented practitioners Street Photography still appears to suffer from a credibility problem with many galleries and curators. Why ?

This piece was inspired by a complaint I read on Twitter, in short the tweet implied that the judging panel of a current call for entry should be made up of more Street Photographers , blindingly obvious and a reasonable shout I thought on first reading , however , I thought about this a bit more the next day and decided that the worst people to judge Street Photography competitions were Street Photographers ?

Yes you read that right , In my view Street Photographers should not be trusted to judge photo-comps , lets make it clear I’m NOT casting doubt on integrity, motivation or ability, I am questioning the criteria that we (Street Photographers) use to asses and value street photographs ! The truth is that the inward looking Street Photography community and the work most of us produce has not exactly knocked down gallery doors , curators are not beating a path to our doors and offering us fists full of cash. We are failing to maintain the interest of the general public, (our potential market) , it is all becoming a bit self indulgent, art for arts sake ?

Here’s the thing , the activity of Street Photography is hugely popular , but the inconvenient truth is that the consumption of Street Photographs by the public at large and the Art buying public is verging on zero, the only folk seriously buying Street Photography are other Street photographers, sadly !

We have to admit that the digital new wave era of Street Photography has failed as a serious contender within Art Photography circles, unless we become valued here we risk becoming irrelevant hobbyists . I’m not aware of a Street Photography show at the Format Festival , this year ? I don’t want to open the old Street Photography definition debate or blame the ambiguity of definition for lack of progress , no , I wonder if SP pays a high price for its incestuous inward looking mentality , the current Street Photography influencers are creating a “Hotel California” scenario ,”we are all prisoners here of our own device !

Does Street Photography need to see itself through fresh eyes ?

Does Street Photography need to see itself through fresh eyes ?

Its one thing being trapped in the current SP ethos but we should be encouraging visitors to enter the SP house and bring big cakes with files hidden within to help liberate togs and remove the creative cuffs !

We should be welcoming seasoned visual professionals regardless of their area of expertise into the SP bubble in the hope that their fresh eyes will help to take Street Photography and Street Photographers to new places ,visually and geographically. It is no surprise that the surprises within our pictures are failing to surprise anyone anymore ! Street Photography as a collective art movement is currently going nowhere new !

I have to admit that “Fresh Eyes” will certainly raise eye-brows with their “winning” selections, but that’s okay if it gets us to move away from the well lit, technically excellent, beautifully composed, soulless masterpieces that are defining our art-form at this time. The Turner Prize was famous for its head scratching winning selections , creating fantastic PR and artist awareness .

We should not be questioning the qualifications of Street Photography Competition judges , in my view we should be questioning their sanity for wanting to enter the madhouse that is competitive Street Photography. !

The self curation of street Photography has not moved us forward, we need to become more gracious and accept the help of others in order to progress ..

Despite all this I will maintain my interest in the worlds best Street Photography calls for entry and the National Lottery !

Until next time, Keep it real …


Escaping Tony Ray Jones ?

Following my recent re-post and popularity of my “Subliminal Influence” piece , I thought I would write a follow up. This whole project was intended as a personal investigation of TRJ’s influence on me and my personal work., I wanted to understand how deeply my TRJ “subliminal” seeing ran ?.

The Another Day Off project was shot between the years 2012 -2016, following “that” capture in Majorca which admittedly is a strange place to start a English series.!

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To be honest I’m not sure that too many of the shots in Another Day Off display the obvious Ray Jones influence that I was trying to understand & explore when I started this project (thankfully), however , I think the locations I visited that TRJ had photographed previously , ( Durham Miners Gala and The Broadstairs Dickens Festival ) really echoed the great mans approach, especially when I removed the colour from my humble efforts and printed them a little dark ..


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Strangely my visit to Durham Miners Gala was part of my Unite the trade union activities and not a pre-planned Another Day Off photographic jolly, although it was a great day and it was great to re-visit the North East .

As the series progressed I concentrated more on the subject of English leisure time , I almost lost sight of the TRJ influence, I did not read A day Off during the lifespan of the project for fear of visually corrupting my approach. I actually thought i had subconsciously left it behind at one point, which would be no bad thing, as we should never consciously aspire to become a photographic tribute act of our photo-heroes, although conversely I don’t think we should deny or hide our photo influences , as we are all products of the photographs & photographers we consume & admire.

In 2016 I planned to finish the series by shooting the Dickens Festival , I believed I had grown photographically during the project and had the TRJ thing under control , how wrong was I ? The truth was that I was shocked and shaken by the feeling of de-ja-vue as I framed up the shots in my viewfinder in Broadstairs , this was spooky ! , The Dickensian characters that populated my pictures felt and looked so familiar, although these folk were strangers, I believed I had met them before on the pages of my favorite 1974 photo book , It was at this point that I felt a deeper connection to this very special photographer who had photographed this very same event almost fifty years earlier, I knew then that my work here was done, it was time for me to move on, creatively & photographically !.

The Dickens Festival, 2016

The Dickens Festival, 2016

This project had given me so much and has completed the circle, my relationship with the work of the late great Tony Ray Jones has been explored and I have discovered a lot about myself as a person and a photographer , the first image of this series had intrigued me enough to take my personal work more seriously, Some of the images from this shoot surprised me as they taught me to rely less on the learned visual tricks of my photographic hero !

It is now time to trust my own aesthetic instincts more !

Keep it real !

The work Of Tony Ray Jones will be exhibited at The Martin Parr Foundation, Bristol later in 2019

Dodho , Thank You !

I was contacted last week by a Barcelona based photography platform Dodho and given the chance to share a few images from my State Of Britain series with its global audience . Interesting to note that every bit of help , recognition & encouragement this British series has received to date has come from outside the UK , not sure if this is due to national embarrassment , Brexit fatigue or something else ? What a international readership must think of the UK at this time is anyone’s guess ?

Special thanks to Maxim Panes for giving me this opportunity.

Always interested to hear from those who can help me move this project further down the road .

Keep it real !

https://www.dodho.com/the-state-of-britain-by-david-barrett/

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Photographer Changes Lens , Shock !

I have to confess to using a lens of a different focal length this week , I know “Photographer changes lens “ is not a big deal but it is for me, I’ve been shooting and seeing with a 28mm equivalent perspective for ages., zoom lenses and choice just bamboozle me !

It is rare for me to “see” in a different focal length, but I knew immediately that the view below would benefit from the compressed perspective of a short telephoto lens,, especially on a misty morning .. (longer lenses visually amplify weather conditions like fog & heat ).

This piece is not really about the lens change , my intention here is to advise others that a standardisation of approach, kit etc, might help your “successful” capture ratio improve as you will begin to see the world with the same perspective as your lens .

Sometimes you have to adapt to what your seeing but sticking with a fixed focal length will help the work look more consistent which can be very useful when shooting in series.

This Street Photography shenanigans can be and should be very simple .

Enjoy your weekend and keep it real !

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Street Photography Utopia ?

Who is the “best“ Street Photographer right now ? . Who made the best capture of 2018 , Who makes the best camera for Street Photography ?

If your interested to find out the answers to any of the questions above you have just visited the wrong blog, my answer to all the questions above is I DO NOT KNOW & I DO NOT CARE ! (This blog is aimed at grown ups ).

Welcome, if your new here, this site is aimed at serious photographers who want to make great pictures in public places, it is not a Trojan horse for paid for workshops, print sales or any other Street Photography snake oil ! This site represents my Street Photography journey in pictures and words, nothing more nothing less ! The Street Photography landscape has been littered with too much BS and too many crazy claims for too long , everything from being “The First” , “The Best” & “The Greatest” ? All this nonsense is still hanging around online like a bad smell , hopefully those involved are less delusional than they once were and are ready to move on , having seen the limitations of elitism ?

The predominantly white middle class on-line boys club of Street Photography is beginning to recognise a need to become more inclusive and reflect the society it photographs , the profile of female Street Photographers within the UK is growing , dare I suggest that we might be on the verge of creating a real Street Photography Community worthy of the description, a creative community without cynical motives that embraces the values of diversity and equality . I recognise that much more needs to be done !


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I know , I know these lofty ambitions will never be realised , however unless a fresh direction of travel is established by and for The Street Photography Community we will be divided by the past & tribal self interests will undermine our unity and credibility. .Without real change Street Photography will continue to be seen as the art-form that sells its soul for the price of a photo-walk ! We are better than that !

Could Street Photography help build better futures ?

What can we do to change the current ethos of “Street” ?

Could we set up a national UK network of local FREE meet ups, photo-walks ?

Could experienced photographers spare a hour or two to help a new tog for Free ?

Could you help to make this happen ?

I’m sure many of these things already happen under the radar and without great fanfare , a mass adoption of these simple ideas could help to create a real photographic community, a community that is set in the real world that acts for the common good with common goals , this Utopian street photography community could exist if we ALL buy into it and think about what we can give rather than what we can take ! Together we could build a community that is bigger, better & greater than anyone of us individually , my early learning of photography relied on the kindness and patience of others who shared both time and knowledge freely , its time to help others with their photographic journeys !

Reading this you probably think “I’m a “Dreamer” and you might be right ? What I need to know is, if I’m “The Only One”, out there who wants to help others and deliver, form & shape these sketchy ideas, while creating a new Street Photography Utopia ?

Many hands make light work !

Keep it real , share this !

PS, I see this project as UK based, it is not intended to undermine those with a income from Street Photography workshops or photo-walks , it is intended to grow the grassroots SP community by making it more socially aware, accessible, diverse and equal . #StreetUtopiaUK











Hold On Tight , It's 2019

Ready or not the new year is here !                                                                                                                                                                                     The fireworks have gone, so its important that your hangover from 2018 doesn't last for the next twelve months, its time to initiate new projects, bin the stuff that didn't work out in 2018 and  develop your ideas, this is not a rehearsal !  

How can you move your Street Photography forward this year ?

My search for change and progress is not based on dissatisfaction of my current practice, my search is  based on a journey of change and inquiry.  I may not be moving forward but I know I am not standing still, visual questions need to be asked and answered ?                                        Doing things how you have always done them will create the results you have always had !        Embrace and seek change, change your mindset ,  change your focal length , change the locations, change, change, change, change and don't fear failure , failure is the food of creativity, learning and progress.

Think like a student no matter how long you've been shooting "Street" !  Photographic technique is becoming easier to learn , don't spend your time pixel peeping, instead show a active interest in Art , the cubists, surrealists and impressionists have many lessons for photographers with curious minds.

Don’t let pride or peer group pressure get between you and your pictures, everyone talks the talk , very few walk the walk !

Look deeper , shoot  sets of pictures . Notice I used the word set not series , I understand that many photographers feel that the idea of shooting in series is pretentious and conflicts with purest principles of the "Street Photography Moment" !   Don't get caught up with the semantics , sets of images allow the author to develop a deeper narrative that can engage viewers on a different level to the sublime one off captures we usually crave. Shoot a set this year, just five or six pix, keep shooting it until it develops a rhythm and flow that works.

Care less about what others think , these are your images, this is your journey and this is your life . Should you wish to become a sheep become a black one, better still become a wolf, the world has enough sheep !    Be cautious of wolves dressed as shepherds !!!

The best advice I can give for 2019 is to stop taking pictures when your not feeling it, too many photographers create unsustainable workloads for themselves,  a dedicated street photography commitment is a huge undertaking especially when it is  combined with work and family commitments. Remember what is important to you and yours .

Ensure your photography is created on your terms and for the best of reasons . The greatest reward a photographer can / should expect is the thrill of a meaningful capture, everything else is just window dressing. 

Taking my own advice I'm going stop writing this now as I have some other stuff to do, best wishes for the next twelve months.

Keep it real in 2019 !

Go off piste now and then , follow your visual instincts ,this is your journey !

Go off piste now and then , follow your visual instincts ,this is your journey !

Looking Back At 2018

It took me a while to get going in 2018 although I did have a line of investigation I wanted to pursue, I rediscovered and re-evaluated a abandoned series, continued The State Of Britain series and might have made my most significant capture ever ?

I wanted to investigate the multi-exposure technique of stacking exposures on top of each other in camera , as I thought the technique had real possibilities and would bring a welcome slice of serendipity and freshness to my work . Knowing I was going off piste with this approach and risking the wrath of the Street Photography Police made the idea even more compelling !

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I enjoyed shooting these multi layered Suburban Views in flat light during the winter months but as the year progressed this project was subconsciously demoted to the back burner despite its early promise. I will pick this project up again in the months ahead , hopefully .

In April I was fortunate enough to attend the Martin Parr foundation 1970’s British photography seminar, this day was memorable for many reasons although the discovery of work by Marketa Luskacova shot on the beaches of North East England really resonated with me, as I was not aware of her North Tyneside work. I’m not really a photo-seminar fan but this day was different as it assembled many of the photographers who shaped my early ideas of good photography including Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen who kindly agreed to me making this portrait below. . I look forward to attending other events at the Bristol based Parr Foundation in the new year.

Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen


The month of May saw a Royal wedding , this event fitted well with my the State Of Britain project and it did not disappoint , I shot this event in my local town in a Street style and have included a few frames below to give you a flavor of my coverage. Some of my favorite images of 2018 were taken on this Royal Wedding day especially these masked royal figures, that I found decorating a charity shop window. I also enjoyed a trip to the beautiful island of Sardinia in May for the Alghero Street Photography awards where I met some nice folk , managed a few shots and won the Street Photography Single capture award with “that head image” from my State Of Britain project. . .

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As England was caught up in World Cup fever in June, I started to notice a increase in the iconography of English nationalism which was fueled by the uncertainty of the Brexit situation and the football . The month delivered some great weather and some unusual captures as I watched all the football and ploughed on with my State Of Britain project.

July delivered one of my most memorable candid captures ever as the UK political climate and a serendipitous reality collided before me, to create a surreal symbolic image that reflects both the atmosphere of our country and the confusion of our times perfectly , sometimes the world really does align for the lens and blind optimism & perception is rewarded !

The deep symbolism of this candid capture really is very topical, it might be my favorite “Street” picture, ever ?

The State Of Britain , No 100 , 2018

The State Of Britain , No 100 , 2018



Following the Theresa May mask capture in July I had a quiet August , I wasn’t complaining as I knew I had used up a large slice of my annual Street Photography good fortune with that capture , I would have to build up my “luck” again and take my photographic failures on the chin for a while, philosophically speaking, the Well of good fortune was dry ! I knew another decent capture would arrive sooner or later if I kept on working and looking ?

Sometimes crazy candid captures just happen !

Sometimes crazy candid captures just happen !

Both of these captures occurred within 90 mins of each other ?

Both of these captures occurred within 90 mins of each other ?


September brought the opportunity to photograph a English Civil war event that I could not pass up !

I knew that with the right approach one or two captures could be made that had relevance to my British project , the parallels between the English Civil War and Tory Brexit conflicts were clear to me , symbolically at least !

The event delivered what I wanted , it also delivered a abstract view that has no clear narrative but seems to thrive on its anonymity and ambiguity ? This picture is definitely more jazz than classical and is richer for it , I embraced this opportunity to exploit the Tony Ray Jones half a horse trick here, which is never a bad thing ! The symbolism of a horses ass always puts a smile on my face.

I also managed to attend the Elvis Convention in Porthcawl this year , strangely another cardboard mask worn back to front featured in my work ?

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The Porthcawl Elvis Convention.

The Porthcawl Elvis Convention.

October saw me re-engage with my Tomorrow Was Created Yesterday series which I thought was behind me , until I passed the location that inspired this project . This project explores how urban regeneration relates to the past and how the evolution of our towns and cities is a continuous process that links us to those who lived before and those who will follow .

A early image from the 2016 series, Tomorrow Was Created Yesterday that got a face-lift in 2018

A early image from the 2016 series, Tomorrow Was Created Yesterday that got a face-lift in 2018


I photographed the 100 year commemoration of the World War 1 Armistice in November , I was proud and privileged to shoot the Ghost sculptures created by Jackie Lantelli at the village of Slimbridge , Gloucestershire, on Armistice Sunday before participating in the Pages Of The Sea event at Weston Super Mare , both tributes were deeply moving. I was delighted to see how a younger generation engaged with these informal remembrance events , they really appeared to capture the imagination and respect of the young.


WW 1 Ghosts, 2018

WW 1 Ghosts, 2018

As I write this the year is not quite complete , however, I will remember 2018 fondly photographically , my personal projects progressed and I smiled most of the time, what more can you ask for during these troubled times ?

I must thank all the folk who have visited this site and my Twitter feed this year , your support and interest is appreciated , I would also like to thank all the anonymous people who unwittingly feature in my work , although Street Photography is legal in the UK I still rely on a level of tolerance and goodwill from people in public places where I shoot , thank you for your trust.

Weston Super Mare

Weston Super Mare

The world and my country appear to be going to hell in a hand cart as the common sense reliability of democracy is breaking down , the rise of homelessness , food banks and division continues unabated in the UK as political incompetence becomes a global contagion !

Self centered capitalism has become a busted flush in 2018 and highlights the need for a new kind of socially driven politics, that should, at the very least combat rough sleeping and hunger in a established twenty first century “civilised” economy , lets hope for a basic level of competence and decency in 2019 from our governments . .

Wishing you a peaceful Christmas and New Year .








Books this Christmas !

This week I thought I would share my thoughts on a few Street Photography books in the run up to Christmas , I believe these reads will make you a better photographer and enhance your Street Photography skill-set while increasing your understanding of the SP landscape globaly.

52 ASSIGNMENTS , Street Photography by Brian LLoyd Duckett Price £ 12.99 2018

This book delivers inspiration and know how to all photographers regardless of where you are in your personal photographic journey.

As the name suggests this book outlines 52 projects for togs to tackle during the coming year, the more experienced photographers might find some of the advice a bit tired but its all relevant and communicated clearly . I will be adopting and working through this book myself when my own inspiration drys up and my mo jo is low ,this book will definatley help you adopt the mindset of a student , buy this book if you want to keep your work fresh and fun in 2019 and adopt a process of photographic discovery.

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The Street Photographers Manual by David Gibson Price £12.00 2014



This is a must read for anyone trying to increase their awareness of Street Photography & Street Photographers, it features profiles of photographers working now and their work. Gibsons writing style is both entertaining and authoritative , as you would expect from someone who really can walk the walk and talk the talk ., this book features many of his successful captures.

I have only recently bought this book and have to admit to holding it and its author in high regard , the book explores approach and the process of Street Photography like no other that I have read . Make no mistake Gibson is a scholar of all things Street Photography and is blessed with the ability to share his ideas . This Feininger quote really does cut to the chase.

“Photography can be taught only in part- specifically, that part which deals with photo- technique .Everything else has to come from the photographer”

I believe that becoming a better Street Photographer is about personal development and growth , this book could help you to grow as a person and a photographer .

Keep it real , buy it !




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Be Careful What You Wish For ?

Paid for photographic competitions are under attack from on-line photo communities , on first inspection its a easy hit, these photo competitions are perceived by many as exploitative financial ripoffs , however , I think exceptions exist , photographers need to examine their motives and expectations before writing them off. Some are definitely better than others.

In my view the best photo competitions prove to be good value if you are fortunate enough to be recognised , as the public relations teams should ensure that the successful participants , sponsors and work receives a level of exposure in print and on-line that is hard for individuals to achieve independently. Beware of awards that have a lower online presence after the awards ceremony than during the call for entry . Do a online search and see if last years winners come up in your search before this years call for entry ? Unscrupulous / incompetent organisers are taking the cash and not fulfilling the unwritten obligation to promote the winning photographers and the successful work after the event . Those who are successful with the Lensculture platform receive a high level of support and exposure in print and on-line and I can confirm that those single free entries do make it to the final !

Does My Bum Look Big In These , 2018 . A capture made on the island of Sardinia during a photo festival.

Does My Bum Look Big In These , 2018 . A capture made on the island of Sardinia during a photo festival.

I have never regretted participating in a paid photo competition or paid for exhibition call for entry , although I do not usually support the same project twice . I view my entries as a financial donation to a worthwhile new project that might raise my profile or /and the profile of Street Photography . Supporting a new festival or exhibition, win or lose is never a bad thing , hopefully the profile of “Street” photography and a few photographers is raised , which benefits us all , hopefully !

Let me state for the record that many of the paid for competitions are not worthy of support, especially from amateur photographers with limited resources , pro and semi professional photographers use funds from promotional budgets to enter, as the publicity can be far more valuable than the actual prizes .

I believe some organisations , galleries etc, are beginning to rely on competition revenues to stay open and without a doubt many photo festivals would not be viable without income from paid for call for entries . Do we want to lose the social & educational opportunities that the best photo festivals offer ?

Do we want smaller specialist calls to disappear ?

Rightly or wrongly, I see the best photo competitions as a form of crowd funding , certainly the biggest and best have major sponsors and do not need our cash but some smaller grass roots shows deserve support if we want them to grow . A cynical photographer could be excused their skepticism as many events fail photographers and make significant amounts of cash from photo-calls with very little financial scrutiny or transparency.

The best photography awards are usually free ,ironically in my experience the paid for awards I have experienced deliver least ! You pay your money and you take your choice , or not ?

Keep it real .


This piece is a response to the justifiable concerns raised by Lewis Bush and Jim Mortram recently.



The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum !

Don’t worry this is not another article about the “B” word , the title above comes from a capture I made back in 2016 which features a Boris Johnson clown like caricature against a backdrop of partying young people on the back of a carnival float.

I have to admit that I knew the picture was significant at the time of capture but I never imagined that the sentiments expressed within the artwork would come to life the way they have , this picture is not from a protest march or a political rally, this picture was made during a innocuous annual summer carnival !

A few days earlier I had photographed The Dickens Festival at Broadstairs , with hindsight this shoot now looks like a futuristic political gaze into the governments re-adoption of Victorian Dickensian values !

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Make no mistake the political and social changes occurring in Britain today are as damaging, if not more damaging than the de-industrialisation that occurred during the 1970’s , photographically the demise of the Ship Building, Steel and Coal industries were easier to depict than the current twenty first century demolition of working class community and social values. The poverty and misery created by a lack of political empathy, equality and opportunity still exists today , as it did in my 1970’s teenage years on Tyneside.

The State Of Britain project relies on metaphor , humour and simple documentary photography to record the times we live in now , This picture captures the greatest sadness of all , despite all the bright colours , loud music and teenage optimism, no one is smiling anymore !

This party is over ?

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The State Of Britain project is almost complete and considering publishing / exhibition opportunities for spring 2019.

Keep it real !