Our latest photography class focused on street photography and asked a provocative question: is street photography dead given the ubiquity of image taking today?
And by ubiquity I don’t mean just smartphone cameras. I mean cameras everywhere, almost all the time. Think of the security cameras at every street corner in London. Filming. Searching.
If almost any image you could ever want to take has already been taken by somebody somewhere, is waiting for the “decisive moment” just folly?
There are some interesting photographers out there making statements about the present state of street photography using google street view. The Visual Culture Blog has an interesting article about Jon Rafman’s exhibition, The Nine Eyes of Google Street View. Rafman basically curates images from google street view and takes photos of his computer screen. He’s making a statement that Henri Cartier-Bresson’s idea of the “decisive moment” is now already captured by machines, and the photographer’s job is to curate the decisive moment from a large archive rather than a picture of the decisive moment himself.
It’s a thought provoking idea for sure. But I’m definitely disturbed by it. And I guess that’s the point.