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Street photography

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on August 5, 2010

Homme et son soulier, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. All rights reserved, Gaétan Charbonneau ©
I’ve always been intrigued by the standard notion of “street photography”.
It’s one thing to adhere to that definition, and it’s quite another to find a personal style within the specific set of rules that constitute that definition. I had numerous “existential crisis” around the act of fitting inside the street photography notion until I had reached a relative peace of mind.
While there is clearly a sense of the decisive moment in every street photographers work, (a notion first pioneered by Henri-Cartier Bresson), I often find myself questioning the known boundaries of the street photography movement in a way that would still allow me to take advantage of its aesthetics strongest points.
Technique has obvious impact on the working mechanic of the movement and I recently managed to depart from traditional 35mm format cameras to see what would bring a bigger format in adding a 6 x 4.5 medium format camera to my arsenal. I saw that it clearly brought a more contemplative dimension to my work, since larger formats tends to slow everything down.
Another aspect that I often question is the location. What constitutes the street, in terms of territory from a pictorial point of view? Can a rural, non/asphalted location be considered “street photography”, and if not, why exactly? How pre-fabricated  (urban) the location must be to tag an image “street photography”? How big the city must be in order to engineer street photography imagery? Is it possible to come up with that type of imagery in a village? With a forest in the background?  These are relatively mundane questions at first, but upon further inspection questions like these remain important to ask for anyone interested in street photography and it’s place within the history of photography.
Doing street photography is one thing, and liking it is easy, but to find a personal vision within the traditional context of the definition is quite another thing that requires a massive amount of dedication.
Adios all!

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