Calling all Street Photography Critics



Right! While I’m still hoping for more opinions to be shared in the last post, I thought I’d give the exercise another try (I suspect that most readers didn’t scroll down far enough to see the second shot, and simply clicked the like button; hence why some bloggers get rid of their like buttons, AH-HA!).

Here are two more similar minimalist street shots that hopefully will get people openly assessing. Again, only one stands a chance of being included in Hammer Home:

• Impact;

• Originality;

• Unique style;

• Composition;

• Lighting;

• Statement making; and

• Risk management.

I’m even making sure that neither picture has a working title, just in case it may cause a bias in anyone’s evaluation process.



What say ye judges?

I know. Photography is so globalized now and in our faces everyday that it has become so hard to keep looking at so many images, and still share our thoughts about them in ways that don’t seem trite. This is why I feel that as much as the Internet has helped the arts, it has also critically wounded them.

41 thoughts on “Calling all Street Photography Critics

  1. IMO: In the second one, the tree trunk gives a better sense of depth, the two figures are not overlapped and the tree shadows are less prominent – therefore not immediately giving away that it is a poster behind them. However…. the bicycle is featured less and anything that puts cycling into the fringes is not good for me. Hope that helps 🙂 BTW – what IS that guy looking at?

    • Good calls. I feared that the bike, tree shadow and tree trunk would be elements that are too distracting in the composition, especially the bike. In my post-prod I did fade the shadows some by brightening the shot overall without tearing out too much detail or over-processing the shot.

      I can’t for the life of me figure out what he was really looking at. After a burst to get these shots I too was looking down the street but I didn’t see or hear anything of interest.

      It was; nevertheless, his reaction in the moment that caught my eye and motivated me to shoot. The posters in the windows are historical photographs of the city, likely reproduced from the archives of the public library. There are factions in the city that push the heritage aspects of local life. The figure’s gesture of looking down the street behind him and his companion while superimposed before the posters inspired a thought of momentarily looking back at history in me.

  2. First shot is too busy — too many elements fighting for control . The bicycle half seen, the two man too jumbled, the background cluttered and the pointless shadow of the only slightly suggested tree. So it doesn’t hang together. Second shot has better separation of the two figures (two ships passing in the night, a clearer sense of the dark coats. The background scene isn’t as overwhelming, oddly enough, because of the addition of another element – the tree — which takes our eye away from the cluttered backdrop and gets us to ask more questions about Why the tree and how does it relate to the figures? This makes the image stronger. I would, by the way, have chosen a lower than waist level angle to further isolate the dark, moving figures from the lighter, cluttered background.

    • Thank you, Gunter.

      I’m surprised. I was sure that the tree trunk would have been too much of a hindrance.

      I do wish that I had squatted down for these when I saw the dynamics quickly coming into play. That’s happened to me many times. Other times I’ve been luckier.

  3. I thought I preferred the first, thinking that the tree was in the way in the second but now after shifting back and forth many times . . . I like how the tree in #2 forms a strong geometric line within the grid system of the shot. We meet the two men at a slight angle in the perspective between the tree and the bike which leads further into the view beyond. The second also show more clearly the men in stride, with less distraction from the bicycle.
    The second one also tells me the men are either unobtainable or trapped!

    • Interesting. I didn’t even notice that triangular dimension between the tree, bike and figures until you mentioned it. I was only seeing the bike as an obstruction but I see it now as a useful element for directing attention.

  4. Don’t know.

    The first has the better legs for me. They look tidier. But it has the edge of the tree so could use a crop.

    The second, the pose of the men seems untidy to me but the tree is better used.

    How about photoshopping the tree into the first one?

    • Yeeeeeeeeeeeesssssssssssssss! A dissenting opinion!

      I won’t; however, PS the tree from the second shot into a similar position in the first image. I’m not a really a purist in street photography but I do like to keep post prod to a minimum when I do such shots. Whatever life gives me to shoot in the decisive moment, is what I get.

      Even if the shot is technically okay, if it doesn’t have that spark it’s not meant for any project.

  5. I am no critic, but you know that. I just know what I like. And I like door number 2. The first shot looks too busy to the right and the bike well, there’s too much of it in that shot I think. I like how the tree balances the whole photo and the very partial bike is better than the practically whole bike. (Am I getting to technicall? Haha) anyway, #2.

    • Gemma, knowing what you like from what you don’t is is highly important in assessing art. You don’t have to be a major art critic, dealer, appraiser or curator to have a reasonably good idea of what works. People like ex-trucker Teri Horton and art forger Wolfgang Beltracchi have proven that, and given the snob art world a really good shake.

    • I’m afraid that my German is very rusty. I haven’t really practiced since high school, and that’s a very long time ago. I do understand what you said, and so I will try my best to say, danke Gislinde , Ich schätze Sie sich einen Blick sind.

      I hope that I said that right.

  6. Tough call. The thrid commenter said it good, but I find myself leaning more on the first. I guess. for me, you lose mystery with the second post. With the first post, your mind wanders more. Ahhh … the decisions we have to face when posting an image.

    • I think it’s absolutely fascinating how art can be viewed with different eyes, and the dynamics that can occur from an exercise like this. Sometimes, people can be swayed or put on the fence by the vocalized assessment of one observer, yet certain others will have their own opinion on a piece and stick to it no matter what.

      Unfortunately, there are many who don’t go to art galleries on regular bases. This is the type of healthy reaction and interaction that can occur over art. Given that art is so globalized now, thanks to the World Wide Web, it’s more important than ever that this kind of engagement over the fine arts takes place.

      I love it.

    • Thank you, Madhu.

      I’m enjoying this. It’s like there’s a yawn, and eyes are widening in the morning light. People are rediscovering the importance of art in their respective lives.

  7. I like the second picture, the tree trunk adds a dimension that the bike does not. I also like the tonal range of each picture.

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