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 !
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 …