Johanna Neurath, first proofs, 2010
Essential for anyone interested in contemporary photography, Street Photography Now introduces a group of photographers that have not been collected together before in print. In addition to the photographers under 40, the book features a handful of influential masters, such as Martin Parr, Richard Kalvar and Alex Webb.
The editors Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLaren touch upon without getting mired in some of the issues surrounding street photography: are there rules, is it photojournalism, is is OK to digitally manipulate, is it trying to tell a story? The book is beautifully designed and printed, and all of the work looks great, from those using digital cameras to older photographers shooting with Summicrons and Kodachrome.
You’ve probably seen some of these photographers featured on sites such as 2 Point 8, La Pura Vida and In-Public. While the many interesting tumblr blogs are good at emphasizing street photography’s quick and disjointed nature, Street Photography Now presents a rich overview of a global tribe documenting contemporary life.
This book is a natural companion to 1994’s Bystander: A History Of Street Photography by Joel Meyerowitz and Colin Westerbeck. Bystander establishes street photography as photography’s default mode, starting in the mid-1800s when human forms on the street were ghosts to slow film, through the era of 35mm speed and dexterity at the close of 20th century.
Street Photography Now picks up the story 15 years later, when there is no longer a distinction between citizen and photographer, with billions of small cameras documenting urban experience. Howarth and McLaren create a cohesive view of modern life, while at the same time emphasizing the importance of the photographer’s trained eye and methods.
In the age of constant citizen documentation and automated surveillance, the individual that engages in street photography as a craft doesn’t find answers, solve crimes or offer an antidote to the chaos of contemporary life. The work collected in Street Photography Now embraces the odd sensation that, even in the Google epoch, at the end of each day in a city there are more questions than answers.