One of the aspects that I love about street photography is its low bar to entry. Nowadays, everyone has a camera (in their smartphone) and (with very few exceptions) we can all get out in public and take candid photos. It makes street accessible to all which can have some interesting side effects like a lot of pretty average photos (hey, I was there too. And I’m still not “great”). This reminds me of some of the mottos of the Punk movement. In fact, I think Street photography is punk. Here are some reasons that street photography is like punk.
Just start with street photography
This was a classic poster during early punk zines. The motto was simple, all you need is a couple of chords and then you should get started creating. The same true of street. All you need is a camera, a public place and a little composition knowledge and you’re good to go.
Street photography as a lifestyle
The same is true of Street photography. It’s not just about the photos or photography but Street photography is a lifestyle. It’s about observing those around you and noticing the things that pass people by. It’s about empathizing with those around you and appreciating them for who they are, not taking advantage of them.
Different sub-genres and off shoots
Just as there are off shoots of street photography, there are off shoots of punk. Some are very closely related, combining different elements, and some seem to be completely contradictory to the origin of punk. Some of it is raw, others highly processed and polished. There is still a trace of the origin in some of these off shoots but it’s hard to compare them.
The thing about punk is there are purists. Once you start going outside of that, they don’t think what you’re doing is punk rock - Billy Joe ArmstrongClick To Tweet
I wonder about the quote that “Real music isn’t on the radio” perhaps it reflects this idea that all this overly edited and polished images reflecting a perfect, unrealistic lifestyle (with none of the downsides) isn’t real. If you look at most of instagram, it’s only the highs in life and people making things look better than they are. Street seeks to show the normal world and sometimes that means the bad times, the protests and moments of pain.
Do you agree that street photography is like punk?
In my books I see a lot of overlap between the punk mentality and street photography (as well as how it has changed over time). But maybe I’m wrong so I’d love to know what you think. Is street photography like punk?
Also published on Medium.