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.
Thanks for that Nick. I recently got a Fujifilm X-Pro 1 for this very reason; get back to the streets. I agree that it’s beauty and integrity is missed a lot, with so many jumping into it. I’m a student of street photography, and this post has given me direction for this coming weekend.
It’s very rare I feel compelled to leave a comment online, particularly if I don’t feel I have anything interesting to add to the conversation, but this really speaks to me.
Thank you for summing this up so beautifully. In the future if anybody asks me to explain my love for street photography I’ll simply point them here.
Good Nick. Almost exactly how I feel. Only thing I would say is that while everyone has a camera, it doesn’t follow that everyone one is a photographer, much less the elite of the breed, a street photographer. I like the use of integrity in both its meanings. And it’s what we all need to be aiming for, just as you say. thanks mate!
Brilliant!! It’s exactly how I’ve been feeling, but couldn’t commit it to writing as well as you have, and feeling guilty of some of the points you’ve made above. Because of those reasons I have not posted anything on my Flickr account for a whole year. I felt I was being sucked into the “Matrix”. Liking, following for the sake of being accepted. I slowly stopped shooting Street for the reasons I started in the first place, I enjoyed documenting what I saw to be interesting, for myself, instead I slowly began to shoot what I thought people would find interesting, and began to darken, lighten, use presets, sharpen etc etc to enhance the image, as I thought it wasn’t “interesting” enough. Last year I returned to shooting film, and sold all my digital gear. I began to shoot for myself once again, and what I shoot it may not be interesting to others, but it is to me, and I am enjoying myself again, immensely.
I would love to actually return to Flickr with a snapshot of your post as my 1st image of 2016. Would you give me permission to post this up please, I would obviously credit you and point to your page.
How can anyone not agree with what you wrote? The marketless nature of street photography makes it probably the more free of all kind of photography in the world. Thank you.
[…] un post publicado en su web en 2015, titulado ‘Photography and Integrity’ (Fotografía e Integridad), Turpin denuncia que la fotografía se ha convertido en un instrumento […]