Street Photography

Street photographs are, to put it simply, images of human stories taken in a public setting. Most street photography would be taken candidly but it doesn’t always happen that way. Sometimes I get caught, but I still have to take the shot!

Joel Meyerowitz is an 83 year old street photographer born and raised in New York City. He’s renowned as a street photographer and one of the earliest to use colour in his body of work. Joel is also well-known as an art photographer. He’s done numerous gallery showings globally; and he’s a member of the New York City – based Magnum Group of photographers.
He’s the author of over forty books about street and fine art photography. One of these books is Bystander, co-authored with Colin Westerbeck. Often called the “bible” of the history of street photography, it’s not a definitive read as it focuses primarily on European and American photo history – but it’s a must-read for those wanting to better understand the roots and history of street photography.

On September the 11th, 2001, Joel was in the process of packing for a trip that wouldn’t happen. Passionate about his city, and always curious, he was quick to get to the site of turmoil and chaos. The police had cordoned off the site and no one but first-responders were allowed in. The immediate reaction of Mayor Giuliani and President George Bush Jr., was to draw a line in the sand – no photographers or journalists allowed.
Joel knew that he had to do something. The story was important and it shouldn’t be hidden. He worked tirelessly to meet the first responders – the police, medics, doctors, deconstruction workers, and more – to get them on his side.
After a few days, and having enough support, sixty-three year old Joel Meyerowitz carried his heavy 8×10 Deardorff camera and tripod up a five story-high mound of rubble, to meet the NYC police detectives ready to embrace him at the top.

By the time he was found out, he had a body of work that couldn’t be denied. It was conceded that he would be the first photographer to be allowed unimpeded access to the site. Not long after, the Museum of the City of New York engaged him to create an archive of work on the 9/11 destruction and the recovery at Ground Zero. This archive now numbers over 5,000 images. And five years to the day from the date of the attack the Meyerowitz book Aftermath was released – a collection of over 400 images of the rescues, recoveries, and demolition and excavation work.
I know we like to classify everything – it’s a human trait. Is this street photography? Well, it’s not a public setting is it? And it needed the cooperation of others didn’t it?
What we have here is what I’ll call social documentary photography. It has its roots in street photography, and often starts out as street photography.

My name is Bill Green. I look forward to seeing you at street field trips and at upcoming Street Photography SIG meetings.

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