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Seminal Work Of Famous Street Photographers

In the 1930s Kodak invented the 35mm film format, which gave rise to smaller cameras, that allowed people to shoot from the hip and take many photographs without having to change film. This revolution gave rise to the street photographer and arguably the first and most successful was Henri Carier Bresson. Cartier Bresson chased the decisive moment and spawn further famous street photographers, such as Garry Winogrand, William Klein, Robert Frank, Joel Mayrowitz and William Eggleston.

Prior to the invention of 35mm rollfilm, cameras were huge and unwieldy. They were usually 4×5 plate and press cameras, and it was difficult to capture moments without blurring subjects. However, the Now York photographer known a Wegee The Famous managed to use a Speed Graphic 4×5 press camera to amazing effect. Weegee is famous for capturing crime scenes in New York City as they happened, he owned a police radio and had a gift for always being at the right moment at the right time. As a photo-journalist he became legend.

With the invention of 35mm film came many young street photographers, who shot from the hip and captured decisive moments that were ground-breaking, challenging and even disturbing. Henri Cartier Bresson was arguably the fist to really utilize the new format, and his images are now considered works of genius. One particular photograph, titled Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare portrays a man lumping over what look like broken hoops. This image is considered to be Bresson’s statement about Europe and impending World War 2.

Robert Frank produced a seminal photo-book titled “The Americans”. He took a road trip across America to document and photograph the country and its culture. The finished work was less than favorable portraits of US culture. Symbolism is carefully woven into his photographs, such as crosses and American flags, and the book tells a story about juke-boxes, cigars, Diners, Gas Stations and Americana. The book did not do well, as Frank was Swiss and many considered his view of America insulting. But the book has since become one of the most important photo-books ever produced.

One of the most important street photographers during the 1960s was William Klein. This New York City based photographers had a highly energetic and anarchic style, that reveals a darker side of New York City. Garry Winogrand was also very important; he was also New York based and is famous for his many photographs of the Central Park and Bronx zoos, where he took disturbing images.

The majority of street photographers up until the 1960s shot in black and white, as this was considered more artistic. However; photographers in the 1970s began to experiment with color, this was initially frowned upon by the artistic community of the time.

Joel Mayrowitz and William Eggleston began to shoot the world in color during the 1970s. Joel Mayrowitz began shooting in color in the 1970s because he wanted to capture as much detail from his photographs as possible, and began to believe that as the world is in color, it should be photographed in colored. He also returned to the large view camera for his street photography, which he used to capture large street scenes and portraits in exquisite detail.

William Eggleston created color photographs of the Southern USA, and photographed what would normally be considered bland and uninteresting everyday objects and scenes in an incredibly beautiful way. Eggleston stated that he was “at war with the obvious”; his photographs are difficult to explain but are aesthetically so beautiful that they can simply be called art. Eggleston is though to be among the best and famous street photographers.

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