Let this quote sink in for a minute:
“I always thought of photography as a naughty thing to do — that was one of my favorite things about it, and when I first did it, I felt very perverse.”
That quote is from Diane Arbus, and I think it nails what the thrill of street photography is all about squarely on the head. Shooting street is a rush, and if we’re being honest with ourselves, a naughty one at that. Pushing creepy, voyeuristic analogies aside, the nature of street photography could be considered slightly criminal. We are stealing from our subjects when we work candidly. We’re stealing moments, expressions, emotions, positions and movements. But, it is not with malicious intent. At least for me it isn’t. I “steal” to celebrate or to document.
However, detractors can legitimately argue against that defense. The anti-street folks can claim it’s an invasion of privacy, but I know the real deal and that’s what counts. I can even say, with a slightly straight face, that a street photographer can be viewed as a type of Robin Hood, stealing from the world that is rich in images and presenting them to the poor, unfortunate eyes that don’t see what we do. Lame excuse to justify my need to satisfy my street addiction? Perhaps. But, it’s true. Or maybe I’ve just told myself that enough that I believe it’s true! Never trust a junkie.