Street photography can be credited as the movement that took photographers out of the studio and into the world. The early years of grainy, fast-acting film birthed what street photography has become today: smartphones waiting idly by in our pockets, the digital tool of communication for the masses. In this issue, we celebrate the many ambitious and unique ways the digital age gives life to the street photograph.
CIRCULAR PHOTOGRAPHS OF EVERYDAY LIFE
In its highly addicting blog, Lomography takes us on an epic throwback journey through the lens of Kodak No. 1. Released in 1889, the Kodak No. 1 was the first widespread consumer camera available to the masses and thus largely responsible for history’s first street photography. Designed by the great George Eastman, the box camera had no viewfinder and sold for $25, but by far its most notable quality was the circular frame. The theory was that the aesthetic of the frame was a distraction from the inevitably poor image quality (call it the Instagram filter of the 1800s).
The still-life series I’m a Piece of Garbage is a collection of tossed items artist Annica Lydenberg finds on the street. After their resurrection, Lydenberg paints the objects with ironic phrases, then collaborates with Gui Machado to create these vibrant photographs. The juxtaposition of color and bold text with mundane objects reinforces a notion of what constitutes “trash” with a playful touch. As Lydenberg puts it, “Like these old items, this series is about having character but not always being desirable, current, or flashy.”
H-art Collective is an Internet-based artist group of Turkish photographers who utilize mobile photography as a way to seek, produce, collaborate on, and share projects. Their ongoing series Street Stories is an evolving curation of selected images exploring the unique qualities within street photography while emphasizing the strengths of mobile platforms.
The Death Of Conversation
Street photographer Babycakes Romero originally began this series as a way to confront friends around him who were busy staring at their phones while he sat in silence waiting. Since its inception, it has grown into a poignant commentary on the modern human condition. We leave our homes armed with apps, filters, and data plans only to find ourselves tucked away in a corner, alone. The Death of Conversation reminds us to be present, embrace technology for its rapidly evolving potential, but not to let it get the best of us.
@everydayUSA was born and continues to live solely on Instagram. The account is a culmination of voices and snapshots taken by some of the biggest names in photography nationwide. Usually in the style of street journalism, @everydayUSA is packed with social commentary and diverse interpretations of Americana aesthetics. Images, always engaging, range from stark minimalistic shots taken on roadside travels, to the intimate, personal moments in private lives.
HOW INSTAGRAM CHANGED STREET PHOTOGRAPHY
In just five years, Instagram has completely transformed street photography. For a feature on American Photo’s website, Jordan G. Teicher (who also happens to be a Photograph magazine contributor) outlines the role Instagram has played in what he refers to as the “new wave of street photography.” Social media calls into question the traditionalists’ view of photography; instead of quietly spending time alone with your images as you develop, print, and analyze, they are now fast-tracked to the Internet’s masses, challenging the former intimacy of the process. It’s easy to criticize the nature of this in a Walter Benjamin, Age Of Mechanical Reproduction, kind of way, but Teicher dares us to look closer, pointing at the beauty and diversity of communication that social media provides. The constantly growing Instagram community has catapulted the world of street photography beyond the few skilled owners of a Leica and is now equally embraced by artists and non-artists alike.