Kirk Tuck on Street Photography

Discussion in 'Photography Techniques' started by Djarum, May 11, 2011.

  1. Djarum

    Djarum SC All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2010
    Huntsville, AL
    Real Name:
  2. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    Yes, very informative. Over at TOP they provided a counter argument to Kirk's methods: On Street Photography.
  3. Djarum

    Djarum SC All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2010
    Huntsville, AL
    Real Name:
    Andrew, I was going to post it, but I got stuck reading both the original comments at TOP and the counterpoints. Interesting stuff.

    I don't do street photography, but I am intrigued greatly buy it. Some of the comments expressed that years down the road, someone could look at the pictures and see what people were doing. From a pure documentary point of view, I understand that. But we already have enough of that in video and in photos to last lifetimes. So that brings me back to the art aspect of Street Photography and what value it has. Like I said, I'm intrigued.
  4. olli

    olli Super Moderator Emeritus

    Sep 28, 2010
    Metro Manila
    Real Name:
    There's also a good discussion of Tuck's post at The Online Photographer.

    PS Sorry. Must have been posting at the same time as Andrew.
  5. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    I can see both perspectives. I've been reading Kirk's blog for a while and I sense that he enjoys the social'ness of photography and in building relationships with his clients and subjects. This is different from what I might call the stricter art form of street photography where you wonder around and snap away, never really connecting with their subjects.

    I've been reading some Bruce Davidson and I try to imagine how someone like that works. Do they connect like Kirk might (a nod, a thumbs up...) or do they just snap and move on? Of course, he was also part documentary photograph and would cover people over time as well, thus requiring a relationship.

    I too am intrigued by street photography - it's an area of photography that I don't necessarily "get" but I'm studying it to try and understand what the essence of it is, what makes it a unique art form. Is it about historical preservation, about capturing everyday life, about capturing people in unique abstract poses and expressions, etc... I see a lot of Japanese street photography and I study each image asking "what is unique about this image?"
  6. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    If your TAKING photos, his ideas might work. He set his own guidelines that he thinks people can live with, ok.

    If your MAKING photos, chuck his guidelines down the toilet.

    The issue at hand is not a guideline for correct posture on the street, it's about taking vrs making.
  7. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    Shooter What!?

    Here's what shooter is talking about.
    If you think in terms of taking photos, you are associating the image with the reality it derived from. It is linked to the 3 dimensional reality it came from. With it is attached guilt of TAKING something.

    If you think in terms of making photos, then the photo is born to it's own new reality.
    The image stands on it's own as a new reality.
    Your not taking anything, your giving birth to an image.

    Weston was most aware of this. He had issues with the f64 group because of this issue.
    They wanted to present a new vision of an existing reality and he saw his images as their own reality.
    This process of thinking leads to the reality that a photo is not a representation of reality.
    You abstract a 2 dimensional reality from a 3 dimensional reality when you make a photo.
    Photos are abstractions of reality and thus form their own new reality.

    On the street, if your thinking that your making photos so that they represent the pretty girl, with permission, well, you lost the edge. The act of seeing on the street is juxtaposing elements in time and space. It's a rare occasion that one would ask to make a photo but a common situation if one wanted to take a photo.

    You are in the here and now! Your images will provide future viewers and shooters what you saw and how the world looked to you while you visited it.
    You don't need permission to do that.

    You provide yourself with the options if having to ASK permission or just make photos.
    It's about you and your choice of subject matter.

    Be safe out there but stay on the edge. The safe side gets boring quickly.
    • Like Like x 5
  8. Djarum

    Djarum SC All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2010
    Huntsville, AL
    Real Name:

    I think it really depends on the type of photo. When I saw some of Kirk Tucks photos, they were up in your face type photos. To be honest, I don't think in today's society that here in the U.S. that you can get away with those sorts of photos without getting into permission issues. Other photos I see on the street aren't quite in your face type photos. There is more about the individual and the environment that the individual is in.

    The second thing I'd like to say is that at the end of the day, an image is an image. If I see an image, and I like it or it interests me, I don't care if it was taken with permission or not. I just like the image. If the photographer didn't ask, fine, if he/she did, fine too. From my point of view, this idea of making or taking a photo is more about personal choice of the photographer. If the photographer is happy with the results and he asked permission or not, who am I to judge if one instance is better than another? All I care about is the final image, and whether I like to view it or not. Maybe I can say that because I'm more of an observer than someone who actively participates. Its like watching football. I don't care if the receiver runs perfrect routes or runs really fast. If the reciever can catch the ball for my team and win games, that is all I care about.
  9. Djarum

    Djarum SC All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2010
    Huntsville, AL
    Real Name:

    Not to pick on you again, because I don't mean to . This is why I find street photography so interesting. More so about the idea itself or genre itself moreso than individual photos.

    I'm also going to say up front this is slightly off topic, even though I started the thread.

    This is sort of like Facebook or twitter. I personally could care less about people's everyday trivial activities. Sure, staying informed about specific important events is one thing. Some of the stuff on Facebook and Twitter is downright silly.

    This idea of someone else seeing the world through the photographer's eyes is very similar to what these social networks are about. It sounds like me that Street Photographers were well ahead of their time, maybe? I know that when I look at street photos, and the ones I do like, it has nothing to do with the photographer, in general. I don't see a picture and think "well, this is what he/she wanted me to see". I don't see it as social commentary. Am I supposed to? Can't that be said for all pieces of art or all photographs? While the purpose of a photograph and the end result, the photograph itself, are somewhat related, I feel more and more compelled to look at the picture as it is and to stop worrying about the "purpose" of the photograph. I think this can be said for many things. I enjoy the things in life for what they are, not for why they are.

    Am I that off base?
  10. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus SC Top Veteran

    Jul 6, 2010
    I think what he writes is fair enough. When I was shooting a lot of travel images I had two rules. The first was never make anyone look bad. The second was would I like somebody else doing to me what I was doing to them.

    Plus engaging with people can have its benefits. The following image was taken in a french village. Myself and a friend were itching to take a photograph. Men of several generations sitting on a bench in front of the boys school with two bicycles at each end and the autumn leaves in front of them. It couldn't have looked better if I had set it up. We decided not to take a grab shot or a sneaked photograph, but the men saw what we wanted to do and to my eternal gratitude realised what a great picture it would be. They waved us over, posed, we took the shot, smiled at each other, waved and left.

    A few years later the picture was published in a UK travel magazine and by some miracle the Mayor of the village saw it and asked me for a copy via the magazine, as in the meantime some of the men had died and they wanted to put a copy in the town hall. I was honoured to do so.

    It is one of my favourite pictures and certainly my favourite story about any of my photographs. However if they hadn't waved us over and gave us "permission" to take it we would have left them alone and respected their wish for privacy. That it was taken with an unwritten and unspoken "contract" between us, and in a friendly spirit, gives it a real resonance for me.

    • Like Like x 3
  11. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    Jason, not off base at all. Myself, I like the tradition is street that was laid out in front of me.
    I also do other things. History shows all.
    We see the past thru images made in that present time.

    Talking about street is also recognizing that within the genre, other genres have been given birth.
    One can not ignore one's presence in time/space reality.
    Those images will have meaning in the future.
    Not to say that, that is photography's only purpose but one of the most important.
    Street work is about 2 main approaches...
    1. Observer
    2. Participant.
    We all play both roles at times, unavoidable.
    I try to be the observer as much as possible.
    Others like being participants.
    To each his own. The images speak better than any words I could ever write.
    The important thing is to remember that in the future, your images will outlive you.

    I'm tired...sorry for ranting..... I'll try to update my thoughts later when I get some rest. I'm rambling and that's not helping... sorry....
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    Jason, this is something you might like to discuss further in the Reflective Photographer discussion. For me if you take away the analysis and enjoyment of the process then you take away the enjoyment of the end product. To use a similar sports analogy, watching my team win despite playing badly does not make it a good game. For instance, I am starting find attempting street photography rather tiresome and for the time being I'm kind of over it. The enjoyment of the process has diminished so the end result doesn't currently justify the means (for now, anyway). If I see something that catches my eye I would still take the shot but for now I'd prefer to let it happen than to try to make it happen.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Real Name:
    We are getting reflective aren't we?

    I find all photographs reflective and am always interested in what the photographer was thinking, just as I am when I read a poem, or look at a painting or another work of art. Granted not all photography is full of pathos, but even a documentary of something such as a photograph taken by a police photographer has that camera person's eye and mind behind it. That's probably a grisly example many times... I was really thinking about the way that many conquering armies document their "work" and how cold, calculating and often horrible the images appear to us, but those photographers - most likely under orders without any personal choice involved in their orders, or not - still had their souls at work behind their lenses. No human is without "being"...though sometimes it can seem as though they must be.

    For me, when I see a photograph that speaks to me....I fully believe that the photographer's essence is within that image.
    • Like Like x 1