Is street photography harder than it used to be?

By June 22, 2014 June 22nd, 2020 No Comments

We at Shoot The Frame love street photography.

All kinds of street photography; portraits, landscapes, culture, travel, time-lapse, alleyways, cats drinking a latte… The whole lot.

Whilst looking through some NYC images from the 70s and 80s recently, it occurred to me that a great photograph, one that freezes the time and the vibe of a city, may be harder to capture now than ever before.

We are huge fans of Humans of NY. We don’t stand alone there, Brandon Stanton (Humans of NY photographer) is a giant in the modern world of street photographers. The question is; will his images be as curious and important in 30 years time as some of the work that we see from the 60s, 70s, and 80s?

The short answer is, we won’t know until we wait for 30 years… but… lets talk about it anyway.

Here are a few thoughts.

Are people and streets less interesting to photograph now than in the 70s and 80s? Do we have enough style in our fashion, cars, street signs, bar signs, hats and shoes for our grandchildren to look back and say, ‘man… I wished I was in my 20s in 2015. I wish I was a part of that’?

So… Is street photography harder than it used to be? Are these iconic images from the 60s, 70s and 80s actually incredible photographs? Or were there so few photographers taking photos during those eras that we think everything that they captured is a great photo? Were people, streets and cities just more photogenic? Was is easier back then?

There are a couple of issues here.

There are hundreds of millions of photographers in 2015 shooting everything, using anything to do it – so are we desensitised to great street photography just by a sheer overabundance?

Have we as a culture become so boring and cloned on a grand scale that the only way to capture a famous or iconic image is to create it by paying Nicki Minaj to get her gear off?

Are the greats like Bruce Davidson, Martha Cooper and Joel Meyerowitz actually talented photographers? Or were they lucky to have been photographers in such an iconic and photogenic era?

Are photographers like Brandon Stanton and Lee Jeffries greater talents because they are shooting in a difficult era, where they are forced to work harder to make anything look interesting and break through the noise?

Or… will we look back in 30 years and say that Brandon Stanton was lucky to be working and capturing images in such a great, interesting time?


Not sure. Food for thought.


Shoot The Frame

Photographers: Bruce Davidson, Martha Cooper, Joel Meyerowit, Brandon Stanton and Lee Jeffries.

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