Embracing unconventionality in photography, as well as in writing about photography, is a polarizing venture. As with any art, going against the grain can be reviled or exalted. Middle ground typically is not found until the scales are tipped to the advantage of the embracers by campaigning from the early adopters themselves. Whether this is done consciously or subconsciously, it’s only from the pimping of “challenging” work that the endeavor becomes popular, or at least, “accepted”. However, the endgame of truly challenging work does not have to be about winning the hearts and likes. About becoming wildly popular. About becoming a mass-market darling. The endgame can be the challenge itself. The challenge to make the observer think and, at the highest level, inspire.
The few street photography manuals I’ve read have not been exactly challenging, and for that matter, inspiring. Manuals, by definition, are not meant to be inspiring. That’s not to say they haven’t been helpful, fulfilling on their promise of instruction, providing tips and tricks. They offer similar bits of direction and tend to be geared towards the fledgling street photographer. That being said, a bit of dread crept over me when I found a link to Michail Moscholios’ free e-book, Anti-Manual on Street Photography in my inbox.