I read Joel Meyerowitz’s interview by Blake Andrews yesterday, and thought I’d write about it the next day; perhaps unsurprisingly John Sypal also picked up the same bit that I was interested in, namely, the following answer:
“…we have seen far too many examples of photographers playing point-counterpoint with signage interacting in an ironic or humorous way with pedestrian traffic. We have also seen a more aggressive brand of in your face work in the style of Bruce Gilden, which is a punishing assault on innocent people all for the look of shock on their faces.” — Joel Meyerowitz
I think that accounts for a lot of my distaste for what is passed around as “street photography” today——overused tropes, tired cliches, and worse, a pervasively underdeveloped aesthetic sense. Some prefer to take Robert Capa’s “not close enough” quote too literally and have nothing to show other than photos of people looking surprised.
Most of it is boring and uninteresting.
There should be a limit to copying the “masters”, and when your photos always look like someone else’s, perhaps the limit has been breached. Your photos are supposed to be your own, in every way possible; channeling someone, no matter how good that someone is, is a sign you might want to get another hobby.
Disclaimer: I don’t consider myself a “street photographer”, even though I’ve used that term on-and-off, mainly to explain what I’m doing to someone who isn’t familiar with photography, so take it however you will.