So much photography these days is put to work to sell us something, commonly products or services, maybe ideas or beliefs or appealing to us to give to a cause. Sometimes the photography is working hard to sell us the photographer, his/her uniqueness as an image maker or innovation with ideas. In most of these cases the image itself is worked hard, often worked too hard. It is saturated, it’s contrast is adjusted, it’s sky is darkened, it’s colour balance made more filmic and finally every ounce of sharpness squeezed out of it’s pixels before it explodes momentarily into the public arena in a blinding blaze of likes.
We are all targeted all the time, they want our money and billions are spent on clever visual messages with the sole aim of extracting the money from our pockets. At the cinema before the film they target my children, in the urinals during the intermission I am offered Viagra while I pee. On the drive home after I could save money on my car insurance….it’s relentless.
And…I am part of this machine, I shoot photographs that work hard selling on posters and between the articles in magazines. I’ve got kids and bills to pay so I take the money and make the pictures and I often have a lot of fun doing it.
Integrity is an interesting noun, with two commonly used meanings. Firstly the quality of being honest and having strong moral principals and secondly the state of being whole, undivided and unified.
It seems to me that because of it’s integrity, it’s lack of commercial purpose, the way it just says “This is what I saw”, Street Photography is an antidote to the majority of over worked photography out there. It’s simple role becoming daily more unique and significant in contrast to the spiralling self conscious absurdity of much contemporary photographic imagery. Street Photography’s lack of an ‘angle’ makes it virtually unique in the photographic firmament, it’s not even trying to sell us beauty.
The second meaning of Integrity seems nicely to describe the best of Street Photographs, an image where things came together in unity and momentarily coherence was achieved.
Yes, everyone is a Street Photographer now and as an approach it receives a lot of well deserved criticism. There are an awful lot of images presented as Street Photographs that have fallen a long way short of any truthfulness, unity or coherence but let us not lose sight of the diamond in the rough because the surrounding rough is getting rougher, the diamond is becoming more and more precious.
Go to a public place without your ego and record what is special there with integrity and bring it back to us and say “This is what I saw” and sometimes, just occasionally, everyone will agree, it’s a diamond.