When you are shooting in the streets, you think you are already a "street photographer." Am I right?
I, too, was lured into this thinking. Why not? I shoot people in the streets (photographing them, I mean). I have joined a lot of photowalks. I have taken more than a thousand photos of street scenes and people in the streets. Does that give me the license to be called a true-blue street photographer?
I thought so.
A discussion on this genre dominated the Philippine photography scene for the past weeks. Two Facebook groups with conflicting opinions on what street photography is all about came to the fore. Among others, there were issues primarily on post-processing of photos, as well as what is becoming more popular photography term: poverty porn and poorism. This 'conflict' of opinion even led to the banning from the group of one of the pioneers in street photography and photojournalism.
One thing led to another and this gave birth to a more liberal and open-minded Facebook group on street photography, which claims to create a "movement" on street photography, rather than carve on stone what street photography is. The group adheres to the notion that street photography in the Philippines is still an evolving genre, so a free and democratic and intelligent discussion on this matter must have a level playing field--where anybody can voice his/her opinion in the hope of establishing some "guidelines" that can guide wannabe street photographers or make the practice of street photography in the Philippines more palatable--without being censured (also read as: Banned) .
Owing to the masters, street photography as a genre in the Philippines is still in the process of establishing some "rules of thumb." This includes the basic tenet of "blending with the crowd" thus the preference for wide angle lenses and prime lenses as opposed to telephoto lenses. Among other things, it seeks to refine composition techniques to make one's photo more convincing and evocative. However, while it seeks to discuss technical concerns in photography, there are also issues that grip street photography.
Among other things, the practice of street photography in the Philippines has to face some issues akin to the practice of photojournalism. Granting one has already mastered the craft of street photography, can he now call himself as a street photographer? Not so.
One's photos are not only viewed based on its technical merits. It has to go beyond basic composition or digital and old darkroom techniques. It is very easy to photograph anything in public, and one can easily label it as "street photography."
However, street photography is not just any craft or any genre that one can learn with his eyes closed. A street photographer, must not only deal with the technical merits of the photos he shoots. Equally, if not more important, are the ethical, legal, and Philippine's commitment to international treaties and agreements. These include: gender sensitivity and gender equality, ethics and morality, poorism, poverty porn, basic human rights, right to privacy, architectural copyright, and even national security.
Street photography, Philippines-style, is not a piece of cake, after all!
So, street photography, anyone?