In my earlier days as a student of photography, I would stroll the street of Shanghai with some money, rolls of black & white films in my pockets and my camera on my hands; shooting pretty much everything that I see and going home with dozens of used film canisters after the dark, my life was all photography then.
I would then go to the library and read any books about photography, soon realizing I was not reading, I was mostly glancing & staring at all those photographs that I later came to know as masterpieces, photographs that are so simple & modest they show the true colors of our day-to-day lives, the same photograph seen from an artistic point of view becomes fine art.
I read an interesting observation from a fellow street shooter, Nick Turpin, related to his book that he’s writing, posted a diagram on his blog suggesting that photographic landscape in the world of publication falls between three poles: Fine Art, Photojournalism & Street Photography and related to his research, he put the photographers into perspective and tried to categorize & relate each photographers to the afore mentioned poles.
I agree. But…
The correlation between the three genres are obvious as well as sublime, putting it into a picture gives a perspective, but from my point of view, it doesn’t quite illustrate its depth; where it lies the great spirit of journalism.
Street photography has been the playing field for many pre-war photographers, they were the mainstream of photography that pre-dates the war, legendary photojournalists can be considered street photographers, and vice versa due to its nature of shoot-what-you-see, tell-what-people-don’t-hear approach to their subjects.
Instead of a flat diagram, I think it’s more appropriate to include time, & photographer’s age to see it in a more relevant perspective:
A photographer’s growth is photography’s progress. Looking at my photo archive, I can clearly see the distinctive changes in the style of my work, and the collective photography works that I referenced spanning nearly a century from the early 1900s till now–reflected a similar pattern with my own growth as a photographer.
The art of Photography moves together with the photographer’s vision, the world that it opened up and appreciation as a work of art from the community; the street as the training field, picture desk/photo editors as their curators and eventually the public as the critics of the end result.
There is no boundary when it comes to art, photography included. Drawing a diagram and labeling photography is simply synthetic mediocracy. Let nature runs it course and let people grow with the joy of taking pictures.