Having spent the last couple of months looking at a great deal of street photography to feature in the forthcoming PUBLICATION street photography periodical, I have become very aware of the photographic landscape and how the work of the photographers I've been viewing falls somewhere between three poles...
Fine Art Photography - Preoccupation with aesthetic values, shot for the gallery, usually larger format, less issue based, less 'moment' based, including a lot of non documentary work using computer manipulation and models.
Photojournalism - Issue/story/theme based photography, strongly themed collections of images, largely smaller format for editorial and web presentation, completely documentary tradition.
Street Photography - Preoccupation with the 'moment' and the 'found', generally collections of single unconnected images, largely small format for publication and web presentation, completely documentary tradition.
I started to try and visualise a photographic topography onto which I could place photographers that would show the degree to which their work reflected the aspects of these three poles and show how they related to each other, how some would be neighbors and some would live close but across the documentary/non documentary divide. The resulting diagram has many flaws, it is very generalistic, it sums up a photographer with a single point and the positioning of those points is very subjective. It is also very much drawn from a Street Photography perspective but it does help one think about ones own work and where it might fit into the landscape.
Please feel free to make suggestions and criticisms and I will look at updating it if I agree.
Whilst putting PUBLICATION together I contacted photographer Matthew Baum about an image of his that I had admired for a long time, I explained the idea behind PUBLICATION and we spoke for an hour one Saturday morning about the possibility of my publishing his photograph. At no point during our conversation did he mention to me that he used a computer to 'tidy' his scenes up, it was a few days later that a number of photographers expressed surprise that I wanted to include him and informed me of his process.
I still love the picture but in a different way now, the relationship between Baum's image and the real world has been further removed by his manipulation, however subtle. The picture and Baum move across a border, they cross my 'red line' into a new region of photography, a region that I respect less because it is easier to do.
In the world of Fine Art Photography it is only the end result that matters, the process is less important but in the world of Photojournalism or Street Photography the honesty of the process is as important as the image it achieves. I would rather see Baums image a little less perfect but with its relationship to reality less broken.
When I look at a crazy or beautiful street photograph, I am amazed by the real world and I am amazed that someone had the physical and mental presence and often good fortune to catch it. I see pictures like Melanie Einzig's 'Spring Corner' and it lifts my spirits, it makes me excited about the world we live in because that is where her picture was made, crazy scenes like this do occur and here is the evidence of that. Beautiful as it is, what is Matthew Baums photograph evidence of?