What is(n’t) Street Photography – Casper’s Personal Definition

What is(n’t) Street Photography – Casper’s Personal Definition

Casper Macindoe describes in his own words What is Street Photography, or more accurately What is(n't) Street Photography!

What is Street Photography?

I’m sure all photographers who pound the street have turned over the ‘What is Street Photography?’ question, maybe researched and maybe come to some conclusions. In this blog post it’s now come to me to define the undefinable. So rather than beginning with the ‘What is it?’ I thought I’d take it from ‘What it isn’t?’ and hopefully whatever is remaining IS Street Photography.

It is not LANDSCAPE photography

Often enough without people, wide,large format vistas waited for at both dawn and dusk shot within the golden hour is a short definition of landscape photography. I get the feeling of photographers with bulging kit bags,sturdy boots and a monopod which doubles up as a walking stick as they set out on their adventure, to wait,and wait and wait for that perfect moment of light over sensuous form to then rush home and heap a load of Photoshop filters over the top to accentuate the purple of the fading light. The sole aim as I perceive it of landscape photography is to manifest the awesome power of nature in all her glory and then add a bit of human to make it more appealing.

It is not PORTRAIT photography

Indoors with lights backdrops and chair, a skilled portrait photographer can bring out the essence of a person by shooting endlessly at the same subject. Staging the shoot, preparing the lighting a candid moment can be caught in the same way a trawler can catch fish; the net is wide and chances are high.

It is not DOCUMENTARY photography

All photography documents in one way or another but by definition documentary photography comes out of again the intent of the photographer to build a series of images which collectively describe a chosen subject matter.

It is not PRODUCT photography

Product photography is the portrait photography of things and those things need to sell . Staged lighting, and multiple shots as well as a deal of post processing will always satiate the unreality of product.

It is not ARCHITECTURAL photography

Sharp angular and dramatic this is the Portrait of buildings section and although lighting and conditions will vary, the intent of the photographer is to show the architecture to it’s best, even show the building within its landscape but the intent is about the building and it is only by chance (and design) that most buildings happen on streets.

It is not GEOMETRIC photography

Geometry is  fundamental to all visual imagery; how it’s broken down in composition but only by virtue of it’s location do I think Geometric photography has and relevance to street photography. In it’s own right it is another thing all together and deals with image making as an abstract.

It is not CAT photography


It’d be unfair of me to finish without at least giving some hint as to what street photography is to me.

It is the un-staged documentation of human portraiture within their architectural landscape, aiming to combine the photographic tenants of light and composition candidly.


  1. I agree with this definition, but when it comes to documentary photography, unfortunately it’s not true. Street photography of course is a documentation of life! And documentary photography shows life (in any others context). This areas permeate each other.

    • Thank you for your comment Zofia. In this instance I was thinking about a more pointed documentation of a particular group… Such as ‘documenting the migration of refugees or documenting bakers at work’ where Street does make a document but it isn’t often managing the subject for a particular outcome.

      • But it’s a fine line between these photographs. Of course, what you think is absolutely true!
        I wrote an article about it, but unfortunately only in Polish; /
        ps. my English is not perfect, sorry ;p

  2. Street Photography is of course a long established part of the documentary tradition in Photography, I think you mean it’s not reportage or photojournalism ehich are indeed issue based.

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