Mount Rushmore of Street Photography

Who are the Mount Rushmore’s of street photography? Who’s made the most impact and influence the genre to what it is today. Below are my selections with a brief spiel….Did I get it correct?

Henri Cartier Bresson – The godfather of street photography who was able to find art in everyday life. If you call yourself a street photographer and haven’t studied or Bresson’s work then please stop here and go do so before continuing on. I do not need to say more about HCB, you can view a more in depth profile here.

Bruce Gilden – Love him or hate him, the controversial and polorizing Bruce “Frickin” Gilden is a legend. His earlier work on Coney Island, Tokyo, and Haiti are prestige. He’s influenced many street photographers over the decades, especially with his up close and in your face approach to street photography. I often refer to his work for inspiration. Gilden’s photos I would say have the most soul, very powerful, and makes you feel something in your gut. Not too many photographers can accomplish that.

Alex Webb – Alex Webb is on another level in my opinion. His breakthrough work in color and adding complex layers is something many of us street photographers could only dream of making. Webb’s photos makes you look once, twice…and makes you observe the entire frame.

Garry Winogrand – This last spot was a tough one for me…Winogrand or William Eggleston. Winogrand or Eggleston, back and forth. If you don’t know, I am a huge Eggleston, he’s really changed my view on what street photography is…he broke and challenged the loose term “street photography”. Through his photography he’s made me appreciate the mundane in society…However, in terms of body of work I would say Winogrand edges out Eggleston. Winogrand’s work is awesome! When I think of the loose term of “Street Photography”, the first photographer that comes to mind is GARRY WINOGRAND. His photos aren’t made of subtle humor, one liners, or of people’s faces…he photographs things happening out in the street, or what I like to say “People Happening”. Winogrand along with HCB do it the best in terms of making the ordinary…extraordinary.

10 Street Photography Memes

Ten street photography memes by yours truly.
1. When your street photography friend asks you for your opinion on one of their photos and you don’t know how to react

2. When you’re starting off in street photography and think you need to go out in disguised…

3. The street photography community when you mention Eric Kim and Bruce Gilden in the same sentence.

4. When you’re in the photography zone

5. When you think you got a good photo but no one on social media is liking or commenting on it

6. When you’re producing a street portrait and you kindly ask the subject for one last photo without saying one word

7. When you go on a street photography liking spree on facebook/instagram

8. The smile your face can’t help to make when you think you got a decisive moment type of photo

9. How you feel and eventually end up looking like when you don’t get anything for months

10. When you’re lusting over gearporn and having Gear acquisition Syndrome but you’re broke as fuck

 

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.

Webb

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…

Interview with Bangladesh Street Photographer Muhammad Imam Hasan

Muhammad thanks for your time. Can you start off by telling us a (brief) story on your background and how you first picked up a camera?

Thank you very much Tim for inviting me. I am from a conservative family, so art related activities were less practiced. When I was in high school I got a Yashika MF-2 from my Mama (maternal uncle) and I was fascinated to take family moments (candid). But unfortunately I lost that camera after a year and a half in. Soon after I always dreamed for a camera but I had no ability. After a long break when my wife got pregnant and was very near to delivery I had a strong desire to capture my daughter’s birth and bought a Sony compact camera and that was the start of my photographic journey. Gradually I discovered my deep interest about photography, specially in street photography. So far the journey has been very positive; I look forward in getting more deeper in this genre of photography. I completed basic and foundation course from photography school Pathshala of Dhaka.   

 

Which street photographer inspires you and why?

Somehow in street I feel comfortable with wide lens from beginning and you know Dhaka is a crowdy city, so there are multiple subjects in my most frames. So I started google about layer and found this picture of Master Alex Webb.

And begin to explore to his all photographs. Whenever I feel tired and lack of inspiration I open his book  Suffering of Light and feel energetic to explore street again.

You’ve accomplished a lot and also shoot a lot…what keeps you motivated?

I feel my deep interest to observe people’s activities from close proximity and freeze them in my frame and let it lives forever.

Congrats by the way on placing first for Streetfoto…How did you hear about winning and what was your thoughts?

Thank you very much Tim. I first heard the news from Faruque Islam; living in USA (He also awarded 1st prize in mobile category) and Shah Toufiqur Rahman Ovi from Dhaka at the same time. I was very much surprised and honored.

What’s one photograph you never get tired of looking at?

Again that will be my Inspiration Master Alex Webb’s Photograph.

Webb.PNG

If you can go back to your wedding and hire one street photographer to document it, who would you hire and why?

Very interesting question. Now a days wedding photographers are damaging the beauty of marriage ceremony by interfering the smooth event of taking shoots by giving instruction frequently. I have no ability to hire an international Street Photographer for candid wedding photography. So I want to hire Ata Adnan from Bangladesh (https://www.facebook.com/reminiscencephotographyBD/).

 

You have many awesome photographs…my personal favorite of your’s is the hand grabbing the baby…could you talk about that image and share with us how you were able to capture that moment?

1

From December 2015 to April 2016 we faced continuous bad weather in Dhaka. So I decided to shoot at Kamalapur Railway Station. I was using flash to overcome bad lighting. This shot was taken on 29th January 2016, I was walking along the train windows. I found this little kid inside the train and his father was drinking tea outside the train by keeping one of his hands over the window… it seems that he is grabbing his kid’s neck. As I would fire flash so I had only one chance.. set the camera in live view mode, decide my standing position to get perfect perspective and took shot from top. ( all things happened within few seconds)

Which contemporary photographer you really admire?

Tavepong Pratoomwong from Thailand. He is just brilliant.

https://www.facebook.com/tavepong.pratoomwong

It seems like India, Bangladesh, and Thailand are at the forefront of the street photography scene…what makes bangladesh unique place to shoot?

Thank you very much Tim again for keeping Bangladesh in List. It is very crowded here but people are very friendly so in that sense you will able to photograph very close. In Old Dhaka there is an ancient building and different ancient cultural activities within the close proximities. Old Dhaka is also known as a open market for different wholesale and such…it is a prime location for street photography.  I believe anyone would have a field day there.

How is Bangladesh differ from India as far as photography or are they similar?

All most same. In Bangladesh people are very friendly, actually little bit excess friendly though it’s bad for candid moments.. Otherwise they usually don’t get bother too much about someone with a camera. There are locals that will offer you food so that you can go about your day. Bangladeshi people could be poor but they are very guest friendly and rich in spirit.

Is there a favorite area in Dhaka you like to continuously revisit and shoot? Or do you just wonder wherever your heart desires?

I usually shoot in Old Dhaka during the holidays. But on other days I walk my nearest area and I believe a good photograph can happen in any place at any time. I try to carry camera all the time with me.

If you can have dinner with one street photographer past or present who would it be?

Magnum Photographer Bruce Gilden.  I love to see him work and learn such bravery to fire flash from such close distance.

 

You mostly shoot in color, although you do have some photos in black in white…how do you determine which photos you process or shoot in black and white?

Funny you ask. I always love to shoot and keep it in color. When I find there is strong elements in the captured frame. But if the surrounding colors are either distracting  or killing the main elements, only at that time I will convert to black and white. It depends.

 

Are your photos a reflection of your community, environment, of you personally, or all the above?

Nice question, my images are reflection of my soul and they represents me, my surroundings as well as my environment..

 

How would you want your photography to elevate to the next level?

I am always trying add more emotion and tension in my photographs. I think another experiment for me is to ‘travel the world’ or travel when I can rather.

Any short term or long term goals?

Short term goal would be to have a solo exhibition. Long term goal would be to publishing a book

Does shooting in Dhaka ever get stale for you? Or is there a lot happening where there’s always excitement?

Dhaka is a crowded place, specially Old Dhaka and lots of things happening there all time. Life happens on the streets!

My eyes become habituated with the scenario and activities and tough to get newer one. On the other side as I am exploring same places repeatedly I have to go deep and try to discover something new.

 

What’s the most famous Dhaka dish/meal?

Kacchi( Rice with Mutton) Fuchka, Jhal muri, Dhal puri, Alo puri, Matha, Bot, Kabab etc.

 

Is there a Bangladesh Street Collective?

Yes. Insight Collective (www.insight-collective.com)

Its started its journey from January 2015. Initially there was only 3 member ( Me, Md Enamul Kabir Roni and Faisal bin Rahman shuvo) . Recently 2 new member joined there (Shah Toufiqur Rahman Ovi and Sohail Bin Mohammad)

INSIGHT was formed not only for the showcase of our different approach towards daily life, but also to promote and spread the core idea of a particular genre (Street Photography) in Bangladesh

 

I hope to visit your country within the next two years…any advice to me as a traveler?

You are most welcome and eagerly waiting to be host. We Bangladeshi are very guest friendly… No need to be worry, just come and explore Bangladesh. Be sure it will be one of your memorable tours.

 

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My website: www.imam-hasan.com

Flickr: www.flickr.com/hasandocjimc

Instagram: www.instagram.com/hasandocjimc