In January of 2000 I was shooting on the streets of London on a regular basis, mainly in black and white on a Leica M6. My work was processed by a lab in West London called Flash and the dark room printer there was Simon van Coervorden who had worked at The Independent Newspapers darkroom previously. During one of my visits Simon showed me some prints he was doing for a photographer called David Gibson, who also made pictures on the street and in black and white. Gibsons work was witty and carefully observed with an edge of melancholy to many of his images of older people.
I invited David to visit my home and I took him for some lunch to talk about his work, I was struck by how quiet and unassuming he was, he barely spoke...and yet he had this wonderful talent with a camera. I pretty much decided over that meal to start in-public. It was very early days for the internet then and I had to teach myself the basics of html in order to get the first in-public.com site up and running with just two portfolios, mine and David Gibsons. The first in-public site was like lighting a fire on a dark mountain top, it sent a signal and other Street Photographers quickly got in touch, within the first year seven more portfolios of street photography were added to the site as we made contact with street shooters in Australia and then America. This was an exciting time, we had the sense of being a real community, we were all out shooting daily in different parts of the world and shared our pictures on the groups private discussion board, it was like having a nightly crit of your work from a peer group you really respected. I would get out of bed in the morning and log on to see what the Australians had posted overnight before I even took a piss.
in-public.com site in November 2001
Within a short few years in excess of 40,000 people a month were viewing our work online at the in-public.com site and we were asked by Tate Modern to teach Street Photography workshops to the public, magazines got in touch to publish our work, The Discovery Channel asked me to do a program on Street Photography, BBC radio came out on the streets to find out what it was all about, I went to Yale School of Art to talk about Street Photography. Suddenly there was a new generation of Street Photographers and although the gallery and publishing world was still focused on conceptual work, staged narrative images and Dusseldorf School imitators, we didn't really care, we were shooting our work and reaching a wide and growing audience.....that was the nature of Street Photography, it was marginal and subversive in it's shooting style and in the presentation of its work.
in-public members joining dates:
1. Nick Turpin (2000)
2. David Gibson (2000)
3. Richard Bram (2001)
4. Matt Stuart (2001)
5. Andy Morley-Hall (2001)
6. Trent Parke (2001)
7. Narelle Autio (2001)
8. Jesse Marlow (2001)
9. Adrian Fisk (2001)
10. Nils Jorgensen (2002)
11. Melanie Einzig (2002)
12. Jeffrey Ladd (2003)
13. Amani Willett (2003)
14. Gus Powell (2003)
15. Christophe Agou (2005)
16. Otto Snoek (2006)
17. Blake Andrews (2006)
18. David Solomons (2008)
19. George Kelly (2010)
20. Paul Russell (2010)
Now in 2010 in-public's numbers have swollen to 20 members and our anniversary seems to coincide with a revival of interest in this way of working, we are all very excited about the publication by Thames and Hudson of 'Street Photography Now' in October which will include a number of in-public photographers.
Street Photography Now from Thames & Hudson out in October 2010
It is fantastic that the UK's FORMAT photography festival in 2011 will be themed around Street Photography and in-public will be there showing new work at Derby's Art Gallery and Museum.
Our own activities this year are kicked off on the 27th May at London's Photofusion when we gather to open our exhibition 'in-public @ 10' with work from all 20 members.
I think the text that accompanies the exhibition captures well the current mood:
For some, the phrase 'Street Photography' is a troublesome word, associated with romantic notions of the past, hackneyed and full of cliches. For the photographers of the in-public collective it remains a specific, unique and powerful approach to picturing the subtleties of life in our age.
Since its establishment by Nick Turpin in January 2000 in-public has provided a focal point for the current generation of Street Photographers around the world. Its photographers on four continents have demonstrated that, despite being as old as photography itself, Street Photography remains as relevant as at anytime in the last century.
What is Street Photography? Nick Turpin has argued that in some sense we are all Street Photographers:
"Street Photography is just Photography in its simplest form – it is the medium itself. It is actually all the other forms of photography that need defining. Landscape, fashion, portrait, reportage, art, advertising....these are all complicating additions to the medium of Photography. These are the areas that need to be defined, ring-fenced and partitioned out of the medium of Street Photography."
Whilst photographers have played conceptually with the medium's inherent ambiguity and stretched the photograph's relationship with a real event or scene to breaking point, we always seem to return to the basic power of the camera to record. Nowhere is that recording of the documents of life more profound than in the work of the Street Photographer. Here are people who go out into a public place without research or preconception of ideas and respond instinctively to what is revealed to them. Their pictures, choreographed by chance, in little fragments show us our modern lives.
When famine, war and civil strife command the attention of the majority of documentary photographers, it is crucial that we don't lose sight of the decisions we have made as societies at home. Images made on Oxford Street, 5th Avenue or in the local park by Street Photographers place our own daily lives under the microscope and reveal our values.
The last ten years has seen Street Photography become popular on the internet, been discussed on national television and radio, been written about in national newspapers and taught to the public at Tate Modern. The members of in-public have played a major role in this revival and their images in this exhibition are evidence of the continuing power of Street Photography to deal with the present. It is this current generation of Street Photographers that will now define and shape the future of this enduring genre.
Nick Turpin Publishing will also be launching a beautiful hardback book containing 200 images and an interview with each in-public photographer as well as an essay about the nature of cities by the Guardians architecture and design critic Jonathan Glancey.
Send us an email to be notified when the book is available to purchase.
If you are a beginner and would like to get involved you can join my two day Street Photography workshop for the School of Life in June...
Whichever way you look at it, it's a Street Photography year!
UPDATE 20th May:
The Museum of London will also put on a Street Photography exhibition in spring of 2011, the show will be based around the museums collection of historic work but also contain a section on contemporary practice looking at the impact of digital technology, the internet and recent legislation, curator of photographs Mike Seabourne said "Given the current interest in street photography and the issues surrounding its pursuit, it seems timely to look at how photographers have worked in the street”. More information here.