A brief history of street photography

When I arrived in Glasgow I had this persistent feeling that I wanted to shoot photographs of people on the street. I did not know how to go about it; it was just this amorphous sentiment that hung around in my mind, a shade, a thought of a thought. I was much too shy and lacked the requisite courage to shoot strangers.

Around this time, Totz pointed me in the direction of Street Photography for the Purist by Chris Weeks. Although Chris Weeks stipulated a lot of things that I’m not even sure I can follow at any time in my life, I felt that I understood when he exhorted one to develop the eye of a spy, a ghost. That, together with reading wikipedia and the Street and Documentary forum in photo.net helped me to imagine myself in the street, shooting.

Now I’m reading Bystander: A History of Street Photography by Colin Westerbeck and Joel Meyerowitz and I am educated even more. From the Introduction:

” … For the most part, however, the photographers discussed in these pages have tried to work without being noticed by their subjects. They have taken pictures of people who are going about their business unaware of the photographer’s presence. They have made candid pictures of everyday life in the street. That, at its core, is what street photography is.”

” … The street as it is defined here might be a crowded boulevard or a country lane, a park in the city or a boardwalk at the beach, a lively cafe or a deserted hallway in a tenement, or even a subway car or the lobby of a theater. It is any public place where a photographer could take pictures of subjects who were unknown to him and, whenever possible, unconscious of his presence.”

I thought it might be a good idea to make a “brief history of street photography”; something I can come back to from time to time to remind myself of the great men and women who made me want to do even just a tiny fraction of what they did. They have scaled the lofty heights I aspire to, hopefully for as long as I am able.

Nicephore Niepce (1765–1833) invented photography.

Louis Daguerre (1787–1851) invented the daguerreotype.

William Fox Talbot (1800–1877) invented the talbotype.

Rev. Calvert Jones (1804-1877)

Charles Marville (1816-1879)

Charles Negre (1820–1880)

Felix Bonfils (1831-1885)

John Thomson (1837–1921)

Eugene Atget (1857–1927)

Charles Van Schaick (1852-?)

Berenice Abbott (1898–1991)

Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946)

Chusseau Flaviens (?-?)

Count Giuseppe Primoli (1851-1927)

E.J. Constant Puyo (1857–1933)

Dallett Fuguet (?-?)

Felice Beato (1833-1907)

Paul Strand (1890–1976)

Joseph Byron (1847-1923) and Percy Byron (1878–1959)

Frank Sutcliffe (1853–1941)

Thomas Annan (1829-1887)

Lewis W. Hine (1874–1940)

Jacques Henri Lartigue (1894–1986)

Alice Austen (1866–1952)

Andre Kertesz (1894–1985)

Jacob Riis (1849-1914)

Ralph Steiner (1899–1986)

Robert Doisneau (1912-1994)

Brassai (1899–1984)

Roger Mayne (b. 1929)

Bill Brandt (1904–1983)

Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908–2004)

Lucien Aigner (1901–1999)

Kurt Hutton (1893-1960)

Manuel Alvarez Bravo (1902–2002)

Josef Koudelka (b. 1938)

Roman Vishniac (1897–1990)

Aaron Siskind (1903-1991)

Dorothea Lange (1895–1965)

Ben Shahn (1898–1969)

Helen Levitt (1913–2009)

Max Yavno (1911-1985)

Dan Weiner (1919-1959)

Walker Evans (1903–1975)

Morris Engel (1918 – 2005)

Weegee (1899–1968)

Marjory Collins (1912-1985)

John Vachon (1914–1975)

Lisette Model (1901–1983)

Louis Faurer (1916-2001)

Rene Burri (b. 1933)

Lee Friedlander (b. 1934)

William Klein (b. 1928)

Robert Frank (b. 1924)

Garry Winogrand (1928–1984)

Joel Meyerowitz (b. 1938)

Tod Papageorge (b. 1940)

John Gutmann (1905-1998)

Ray Metzker (b. 1931)

Harry Callahan (1912–1999)

Diane Arbus (1923–1971)

Raghubir Singh (1942-1999)

Jindrich Streit (b. 1946)

Jeff Mermelstein (b. 1957)

Viktor Kolar (b. 1941)

Elliott Erwitt (b. 1928)

Daido Moriyama (b. 1938)

Tom Arndt (b. 1944)

Bruce Gilden (b. 1946)

Richard Kalvar (b. 1944)

Bryn Campbell

Nils Jorgensen

Nick Turpin (b. 1969)

Jeffrey Ladd (b. 1968)

Gus Powell (b. 1974)

Chris Weeks

Edmund Leveckis

Orville Robertson

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Ko-ji Yamasaki

Tod Gross

Alan Dejecacion

Robert Vincent

Tony Remington

Luis Liwanag


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