Having a definition of the photography you do is in my opinion very important. Another matter if it is right or wrong but having one gives you a foundation. Below is mine that I created by analyzing the genre, thoughts and works of hundreds of Street Photographers including myself.


„Street photography is a result of a unique perceptivity which in unposed public space discerns moments of an extraordinary visual and/or connotative value, usually imperceptible without stopping this fleeting moment in a frame.”


„Fotografia uliczna jest rezultatem wyjątkowej spostrzegawczości, która w niepozowanej przestrzeni publicznej, rozpoznaje momenty o nadzwyczajnej wartości wizualnej i/lub konotacyjnej, zazwyczaj niedostrzegalne bez zatrzymania tej ulotnej chwili w kadrze.”

As you can see, there is nothing about inclusion of people or street however it’s set in public space so the importance is in an overall frame and not the object itself. I used conjunctives because there is division into those who have chosen to focus on frames that pleasure viewers with light, visuals, colors, etc. and those who prefer some kind of a story or a suggested narrative. I value most those, who can combine both.

Main difference between Street Photography and documentary, reportage, photojournalism is that the latter is more an illustration to situation or story so context or description is necessary. Connotative SP wants you to wonder not only what is happening right there but also prior to taking a picture. Time and place is often less important. Street Photographer reacts to these 'special' moments and viewer can read anything in it and imagine what has or hasn't happened. Everyone can make up their own story and the variety of these is what attracts us to liking this genre.

I presume someone can find pictures of mine that don't quite fit my definition and I'd probably agree however this is my foundation. I don't practice other genres on regular basis. SP is my primary so this definition is what I have on my mind all the time while taking pictures.

Once I was attending a small presentation of works by foreign Street Photographer. I was sitting and scratching my head because it was merely the Street Photography I knew and how it should look like. After presentation, I asked the photographer how he defines the Street Photography. His answer made some clarifications. Although he might had been wrong about the term at least he had a personal definition and was consistent with his pictures.

I encourage you to make your own discoveries. There is plenty of valuable material (pictures and interviews) produced by individuals and renowned collectives that exist for years. Comparison of these from 15-30 years ago and fresh ones may give you some guidance in making your definition or at least verifying mine.

Be honest with your viewers. If you like to mix genres, pose your subjects or interact prior to making a picture just define it and say this is your definition for personal purpose. Want to use Street Photography term then highlight 'SP to you' means this or that. You can repaint the label on your boat (which is wrong) but at least everyone sees it is your boat and you are consistent with the definition. Worse is floating with debris of understanding SP yet shouting it is how it looks like or swimming the ocean of photography claiming that Street Photography is so wide that can't be defined or SP is whatever you want it to be.

If you are a Street Photographer whose name and works are widely recognizable by community and feel that my definition doesn't fit your doings then contact me and prove me wrong. I don't own rights for this genre but merely sharing my personal views which might adjust if necessary.

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