I remember watching an interview with Martin Parr years ago, when he asked the question "does the world need another sunset photograph" ?
The same question could and maybe should be asked of SP. The answer to me at least is a definite "NO" !
Despite the almost infinite supply of SP created by fantastic artists from all over the world togs like you and I habitually create images that have no significant use or perceived value to most of the global population. The street tog community have already limited the subjects that are acceptable, no homeless, no posters, balloon covered faces are cliched etc. The truth is that SP is almost undermining its own importance due to its popularity with photographers, the fact remains that few living togs manage to create a meaningful income from print sales. Could this be due to the natural laws of supply and demand ?
The people who value street photography most are the photographers who create SP, this is an almost incestuous relationship with our own art form. The way that most of us work does not help the situation, the majority of togs shoot digital and most of the others have a analogue/digital work flow. The situation is compounded by the nature of SP which embraces a purist approach and discourages any form of deviation as it diminishes the element of truth/reality we hope to bring to our works. Most of us seem to favour the same focal length lenses to work with, if you do things the same way repeatedly you will achieve the same results.
In short much of the street images I see and indeed create are starting to look and feel a bit too familiar for want of a better word. (Street Photography Fatigue ?). The general public do appear to buy into "generic" street imagery at places like Ikea but this could be linked to the nostalgic nature of the mass produced products available rather than a real appetite for contemporary SP from the man/woman in the street.
I have realized that the world may not need or want the images that I create but that I need to create these images. Why ? Street photography helps me to understand my place within the world and hopefully it may help others to understand me and how I live or god forbid lived. The work of Vivian Maier, Jimmy Forsyth and Tony Ray Jones has made me think a lot about the lifespan of my work and of myself, I have already sold image licenses that will exist long after I have gone and must admit that its quite a strange scenario to get to grips with.
On a more positive note I must confess that creating street pix makes me happy and that is the best reason to shoot "street", but I do recognize that at the end of the day its all about the images and that capture is only part of the process, it is becoming more difficult to create original work despite every moment on the street being unique, Those who are brave enough to do things in a new way will lead the way in street photography and could be remembered as those who define our time visually, the rest of us will be of our time !
My personal photographic plan for change is not complete but I recognize a need for change, it might be time to start doing it "wrong" !
When the world goes ZIG it may be time to ZAG !