Download Zip of JPEG images: Street Photography History Examples
Chapter 1: “Old school” photographers
“He without a past has no future.”
To start off, let us start off chronologically.
I know a lot of these “old school” photographers might seem a bit boring. However, the reason their work still has lasted, because it is classic. They have paved the way for all of us in photography. They experimented with the medium of photography, and pushed it forward. They made photography an acceptable art form. We have a great deal of debt to pay them.
This period of time is roughly the 1920’s:
1. Andre Kertesz
I’d recommend first starting to learn about Andre Kertesz, who was one of the first photographers who inspired Henri Cartier-Bresson (essentially the “godfather” of street photography). Andre Kertesz harnessed the classic form of geometry to photography, and was prolific all the way until his death.
2. Henri Cartier-Bresson
Of course, you need to study the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, who first took 35mm photography to the next level. He innovated the concept of the “decisive moment“, and saw photography as an “instant sketchbook.”
Henri Cartier-Bresson is a great starting point if you love black and white photography, geometry, and composition. Further resources on Henri Cartier-Bresson here:
- The Theory of Composition in Street Photography: 7 Lessons from Henri Cartier-Bresson
- Debunking the “Myth of the Decisive Moment”
- 10 Things Henri Cartier-Bresson Can Teach You About Street Photography
3. Alfred Stieglitz
Alfred Stieglitz was a photographer, who first pushed photography to be taken acceptably as “art.” Photography wouldn’t be where it is today without him.
Chapter 2: “New school” photographers
I consider this “new school” of photographers the next wave of photographers who innovated in photography, from around the 1950’s onwards to the 1980’s:
4. Garry Winogrand
Garry Winogrand was probably one of the most prolific street photographers to have ever lived. He shot because he loved it, and he was one of the innovators of the 28mm lens, getting close to his subjects, and creating “edgy”, dynamic, and off-kilter compositions. Not all his photos are pretty, but his work ethic, distaste for the art world, and his down-to-earth humor makes him a master to study.
5. William Klein
William Klein is one of the most badass street photographers in history. He said what was on his mind, and said it the way he wanted. He was a “director on the streets” — he would often interact with his subjects, engage them, and this puts his soul in his photos.
Klein also was innovative with fashion photography, film, and inspired many other photographers, including the highly influential Japanese street photographer Daido Moriyama. In turn, Daido Moriyama inspired other master photographers such as Anders Petersen, and Jacob Aue Sobol.
Klein innovated using blur in his photos, high-contrast and grain, and multi-layered photos.
6. Diane Arbus
Diane Arbus is famous for photographing people on the fringes of society. Many of her portraits are a bit unsettling to look at, yet they show deep humanity and empathy. If you love shooting portraits, definitely check out Diane Arbus.
7. Lee Friedlander
Lee Friedlander is a funny photographer with a great wry sense of humor. He innovated in urban landscapes, creating complex scenes (without overlapping figures). Not only that, but his self-portraits have great humor and are quite introspective.
Chapter 3: Contemporary photographers
This section of photographers are personal friends of mine — photographers who I have gained a lot of inspiration from:
8. Josh White
Josh White is one of my best friends, and shoots with his soul. His body of work includes personal photos, as well as street photos. He is the one who inspired me to shoot more personal photos of my loved ones, and family.
9. Blake Andrews
Blake Andrews is a prolific blogger and passionate photographer. He has a no-nonsense approach to photography, and his knowledge on the history of photography (as well as his daily practice of photography) is a massive inspiration to me.
10. Jacob Aue Sobol
Jacob Aue Sobol is probably one of the hardest working photographers around. He has taken ‘personal photography’ to the next level– by getting both physically and emotionally close to his subjects. He constantly inspires me to push myself, photographically, and spiritually.