My Thoughts On Objectivity vs Subjectivity: What Makes a Great Street Photograph by Trevor Marczylo

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(Above image by Trevor Marczylo)

Eric’s Note: I am pleased to announce Trevor Marczylo, a street photographer eating, living, and surviving in Winnipeg, Manitoba as a new weekly contributor to the blog! He is a full-time photographer, making a living selling prints that he takes on a daily basis. Make sure to check out his last feature on my blog with his photos here. Also keep posted for his Friday features! 

I think a “subjective street photograph” contains the attitude of photographer.

The pure photographic image without thinking of any composition but only capturing the moment of a situation with limited time to only think or react and relay on his/her trained eye and how they view/see through their own camera in a moment.

That being said… It all comes down to the street photograph and how that photograph was taken. I’ll try my best to explain myself and using a few of my photos in this article.

***See Dog walker photo Subjective****

Lets take that Dog Walker photo of mine. I believe that this photo is subjective only because When I took the dog photo all I saw was the handicap sign and the blind man being led by his dog which only allowed me seconds to compose/shoot. It wasn’t until after when I got home and viewed that photo that I realized the other person in the photo. To me, that made the photo much more appealing to my eyes.

During the process of printing I debated over burning in the person in the back or leaving him in. When I burned in the person behind the blind man, the photo to me would be objective, because I Burned out one of the elements and changed the perspective of the photo to create a different composition even though the photo still may have that triangular composition, the end result of the photo has lost its real moment.

***See Dog Walker Photo Objective****

In this second version of the photo where I burnt out the subject behind the dog walker, the result is objective. Because I’m not providing the original moment and elements that make up the perspective of that photo.

***See Dog Walker photo with my poor attempt of showing photo lines***

So, in essence would cropping your photo because you didn’t like a certain area or space or someones hand or just because it flat out just works better cropped… How many of you would consider cropping your photo objective?

I personally never crop any photos as I always believed in the pure aesthetic of a full frame shot and being able to frame within you viewfinder. What you see is what you shoot. But that’s just me.

I would think a subjective street photograph that the photographer tried to capture the instant moment and process the photo to show the honest final result. (Full framed not cropped, nothing burnt in or removed).

And an objective street photograph would contain more calculated moment, time to process and plan out your shot (sit and wait at a corner, scope out areas and wait and watch or a commissioned street shoot).

Ok lets look at this photo

*** See Cowboy Games photo***

This photo is tricky in comparison. For 8 months I have been noticing this shot and this man almost everyday as he wheels himself down this wheel chair ramp connected to his condo. I’m usually across the street or not where I should be when I wanted to take this photograph. Until one day while scouting areas for a band shoot, I was led to this spot to grab some stills to figure out what I was gonna do for this band and how I would place them in this shot and make everything work with the given lines. But all I could think about is the man in the cowboy hat and wishing he would come out.

Wishful thinking finally paid off!!!

With my 24mm lens already on my camera and being at the right place now at the right time I waited for what I have visioned for months and months happening Right in the moment. Finally! lining up like I have visioned over and over again ‘CLICK’ I snapped that pic. I couldn’t believe it, I felt it. I knew I have finally captured what I was hoping to achieve, the photo that ate away at me for months is now inside my camera burned into film from light.

So… know is this an objective shot? or subjective? I took the photo not planning to do so that day, but I was thinking and thinking of this shot for months and months, lining it up in my head as if this was a commissioned street shoot.

I’d have to call this photo Objective.

I would not say this photo is subjective at all because of my intentions focused on having the subject in a certain area of the photo and composing the photo for months ahead of time in my head. But not knowing the truth behind this photo, one could obviously say its subjective,….

I guess to sum it up, I do use my camera as objective tool to capture the moment. But without the objective tool I couldn’t produce highly subjective photographs as well as objective photographs : )

Trevor Marczylo

Follow Trevor by checking out his links below!!/TrevorMarczylo

For further reading, check out my original article: Objectivity vs Subjectivity: What Makes a Great Street Photograph? Also share your thoughts about objectivity vs subjectivity in the comments below! 

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