Note: Sara T’Rula was one of the community managers for the “Street Photography Now” project. Read her thoughts about the SPN project and see some of her images as well below!
The SPN Project was a daring and unique year-long project, set up in September 2010 by The Photographers’ Gallery, Sophie Howarth & Stephen McLaren (who authored the book, Street Photography Now), with support from Thames & Hudson. It was daring and unique in bringing together weekly Instructions from 52 photographers featured in the SPN book, and a global community of participants, using social media to make it happen.
There aren’t many photography projects on this scale, or implemented so inexpensively for participants. I was very proud to be part of the team making it happen behind-the-scenes, and the photographers issuing Instructions were generally fabulous to work with. I’m grateful for their generosity.
As can often be the case with social media-based projects, you learn on the job and there’s a feeling of being in “constant beta” (that possibly also describes street photography pretty well!), and TPG found they’d underestimated the work needed to make the project a success. So I joined the team in week 2, working with them to develop the project further, and build the community. By the end of the project, the community was incredibly strong, enough so to take the project onwards into a second year, as the SPN Community.
It’s hard to say how SPNP affected my view of street photography; I’m always out there alone, and looking to chance upon images that will define my own vision. I spend a lot of time looking at photobooks, so I learned much from the 52 photographers, and from community members, but I can’t say specifically what. Getting constructive feedback on my work is always welcomed, and it is great to know that, even though you’re out there alone, you’re not the only one doing this.
I have learned that I want to explore ‘projects’ (however loosely defined) – Kalvar’s Earthlings, Winogrand’s Public Relations, Papageorge’s American Sports, and Parke’s Minutes to Midnight are key inspirations here. But I’m far from doing something as serious that yet, and Instructions can be great for encouraging growth when I’m not working on a project of my own.
I’ve been developing my voice steadily, and benefited greatly from the brilliant and kind input I’ve received from Burn My Eye, David Gibson, Joel Meyerowitz, Phil Coomes and a few others in the last year. I’m hoping to build on this success in the future, to make stronger work.
I love how street photography is both democratic and also highly selective. Anyone with the most basic camera can do it, but crafting a strong, unique, and lasting body of work is rare. I love how involved you become in every moment of your life, seeing the pictures even when you don’t have a camera in your hand. For me, street photography is when various unrelated elements come together to make the world make sense. Or, sometimes, to make an absurd nonsense of everything. Either way, it seems clear that street photography doesn’t need to be on an actual street in order to happen. Street photography is an aesthetic and an approach, but the potent moments can happen anywhere.
I think it would be pretty foolish of me to propose an idea of what the future of street photography might be.
If I had to, I’d probably say that the future of street photography is very much like doing street photography; we’ll only know what shape we’ve given to things when we’re looking at the contact sheets of it all, long after it has happened. So take it very seriously, but never forget to smile while you’re doing so!
More Photos by Sara T’Rula
*The images were all made during 2010 and 2011, in Liverpool, Derby, and London.
Also check out the Street Photography Now Community Year 2’s Assignment #3 here.
For those of you who participated in the Street Photography Now project, what were your experiences? Also feel free to show Sara some love by leaving a comment below!