What If Your Favorite Street Photos Were Staged…

What if you found out your favorite photo(s) from Alex Webb, Bruce Gilden, Winogrand, Parr, etc were manipulated…staged…almost like shooting a narrative film where they had an opportunity to do retakes…re-position their subjects…or even use unnatural lighting. Does the photo and the photographer lose your respect? The definition of street photography is that the photo is taken candidly, right? Before we move any further…I am not saying these photos are posed…I am rather posing the question …What if the street photos you admired from your favorite photographer were in some fashion, manipulated…

Let’s say the photo below by Alex Webb was for example STAGED…do you lose respect for Mr. Webb? How do you stage such a photo like this? Possibly end up directing people…pull strangers off to the side and tell one person to position themselves onto the left side of the frame and hold the 49ers book or whatever it is to cover their face from the sun. Then pull aside two young lovers and have the man’s back facing the camera. And let’s position a father holding his child in the middle of the frame, creating a silhouette image. Of course before having everything aligned the photographer must experiment and have moved around subjects until he got the image he would be satisfied with.


Personally, I wouldn’t be bothered much if some of these iconic images were staged or even slightly manipulated in any way. Again, you still need a vision to see things on the street, it doesn’t make the photographer less credible in my opinion. The beauty of a street photo is yes it’s taken candidly sometimes with only chance to snap the photo. But at the end of the day, a good photo is a good photo and you can leave it up to the viewer whether or not it was captured decisively or not. If you are left feeling more inspired after viewing their photo then the photographer did it’s job…who cares if it’s real, fake, staged, candid…that’s all politics…it’s like pro-wrestling, who cares if it’s fake…you’re entertained right? Everything you see on TV is fake anyways, what’s the difference.

Eric Kim and  Bruce Gilden produce really great street portraits, a sub category of street photography. They’re both great at identifying an interesting subject out in the public setting. Eric likes to engage with his subject a lot more than Bruce but in the end they do ask for permission. They both interact with their subjects…although it’s a street portrait… does that make it less credible because of their engagement with their subject…is it more documentary photography that they’re doing or perhaps commercial photography?

Where does one draw the line of candid and stage…

Published by timhuynhphotos

Streetphotographer from Oahu, HI

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