Research – Street Photography Now, Howarth and McLaren

Today I borrowed a book from the library in order to get more inspiration for my Street Life photography project. The book, ‘Street Photography Now’ by Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLaren, collates the work of 46 contemporary street artists.

Some of the photographers who caught my eye include Melanie Einzig, Markus Hartel, Martin Kollar, Jesse Marlow and Jeff Mermelstein.

Many of these photographers, such as Markus  Hartel, capture unusual occurrences in everyday places. I feel as though this would be an interesting approach to use, so could perhaps try focusing on a few people in my area of Oxford or see if I can come across people who look out of place, etc.

Markus Hartel, Vacuum, 7th Avenue, New York City, 2006

I also like the idea of focusing on a certain element throughout a series of photographs, e.g. Mermelstein took photographs where people were holding things in their mouths, such as books and money, as can be seen below. This draws comparisons between them and shows a relationship between subjects, even though they are completely different in different parts of the city. The motif of holding objects in one’s mouth when in a rush reminds us of how similar we are and how we can each have the same instinctive actions.

I also like the simplicity of black and white pieces, such as that of Trent Parke, as his photography captures atmosphere and emotion. He has great use of light in his photographs, sometimes obscuring parts of the images or drawing attention to particular parts, as can be seen below.

I am forever chasing light. Light turns the ordinary into the magical.
– Trent Parke

In contrast to Parke’s black and white approach, photographers such as William Eggleston use vivid colour to convey their subject matter. Eggleston has been credited with increasing recognition for color photography as a contemporary art form, as ‘proper photographers’ were expected to use black and white. I love how Eggleston catches people going about their everyday lives, but also captures great compositions, such as the one below where although the woman’s face is hidden her clothing and hair reveal a lot about her character. The central focus of her allows the viewer to first pay attention to her hair and then pay more attention to the surrounding scene such as the hand holding a cigarette and person sitting in front of her. The brickwork and blue seats also well contrast.


I think that it would be useful for me to try both colour and black and white photography. I plan on going into my area and seeing what subject matter most interests me. Hopefully this can inspire me and give me ideas of what I want to photograph.


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