Critique the Community

Street Photography

Submit your best street photo for a chance to win a free Fstoppers tutorial."
  • Submission Deadline: Wed, 19 Dec 18 04:45:00 +0000

    This contest has ended.

  • Voting is closed.

  • Congratulations to the winners!

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Have you shot any street photography? We invite you to join the next episode of Critique the Community and submit two of your best street photography shots for feedback and the chance to win one of two Fstoppers tutorials.Although Lee and Patrick don't have much experience with street photography, they do have an eye for quality photos. If you'd like to receive the feedback of Lee and Patrick and your peers here in the Fstoppers community, simply upload up to two of your best street photos before December 18th, 2018 at 11:45 PM EST. We will select a total of 20 images to provide feedback to. The image with the highest average community rating will receive a free tutorial as will a randomly selected entrant. 

Once you've uploaded your images, we invite you scroll through the photos submitted by other members and give them ratings and helpful feedback. The easiest way to do this is by using the arrow pad and number keys on your keyboard. Please keep comments helpful and encouraging. 

  • Submission Deadline: Wed, 19 Dec 18 04:45:00 +0000

    This contest has ended.

  • Voting is closed.

  • 674 people have cast a total of 53,117 votes on 788 submissions from 476 contestants.
  • Congratulations to the winners!

    View Results

119 Comments

Previous comments
Deleted Account's picture

There is very little that is "essential" in street photography. Alex Webb's photo's don't have a narrative. Neither do a lot of Garry Winogrand's.....or Bruce Gilden's. The problem with every forum on the internet regarding photography is that everyone thinks they are correct. I long for the day when people can just take their camera, not listen to what anyone else says and take photo's that THEY love and derive meaning from. The alternative is same, same, same, same, same old stuff showing up again and again.

Marc Castellanos's picture

Then how do you define a 1 (Snapshot)? Or how would you even rate anything if everything is so subjective.
Honestly somebody has to be correct at some point to create a measuring standard, otherwise just post pictures for the sake of posting them, if you start getting into competitions like this one you'll have to agree with something along these lines.

I believe that the competitive nature of these contests create this nonstop complaining, it happens every time.

Jordan McChesney's picture

I think the main problem with having a universal rating system is that it's hard to fit such a diverse art form in to numbers. Especially when different styles of photography have different qualities by which they are rated/graded, and everyone has their own preference.

I think the main problem with "street photography" is that this website doesn't have a lot of exposure to it. As such, the rating system really doesn't fit it well because it doesn't rely as heavily on the technical/gear aspect as the main forms on this website (portrait, landscape, product). I think a lot of people forget this, so they rate a street photography photo by the same standard as a landscape photo, when they couldn't be more different. Each one relies on different aspects for its rating. So, a landscape photo I would normally rate a 2 because it's slightly out of focus might get a 3 as a street photography photo because the story being told is the priority. Yes, ideally both should be in focus, but I've seen slightly out of focus street photos in museums because the story was more important.

No one is wrong but no one "has to be correct". However, sometimes I think people forget the merits specific kinds of photography are best rated on. Not all ratings are equal.

Also, I don't mean this as an attack, but I wouldn't call photos of the homeless "cliche", and I think they can tell a story depending on the culture you're in. Here in Japan they are often considered "invisible" or "dangerous" so seeing them as people in photos forces us to confront an ever growing problem we seem to be ignoring because "it's not our problem". When I was living in Vancouver my attitude towards the homeless was totally different, and I also thought photos of them were "cliche". There are no cliche subjects, only people who fail to view them without nuance.

Marc Castellanos's picture

But I think the rating system is correct the way they picture it, everybody just needs to get into the mindset of the topic.
I think numbers are confusing, we shouldn't be scoring in how "good" the image is (1 - 2 being bad, 3 being okay and 4 - 5 being good)
A 1 is a Snapshot and that means there's no thought behind the photograph, I do not think Street Photographers just snapshot things, there's thought behind it, the problem is that it's very easily confused and I feel like a lot of people exploit that by saying "yeah I wanted to look like that" and therefore the lines get blurry.
About the Cliche part, I do firmly think that shooting homeless for the sake of doing it is cliche, in the example that you posed it's a different story, you are doing it with a different purpose.
So referring to my first comment, story is essential.

Jordan McChesney's picture

It seems like we’re on the same page. My concern is some people not being able to make that mental switch. This goes beyond just the contests, check the “top rated” section and see how long you have to scroll past portraits and landscapes before you find a single street photography photo.

I think we can agree that a story or emotion is a key factor, but not everyone picks up on them. I’m guilty of this when it comes to portrait photography, most of them look like 2-3 star images to me because I don’t have an eye for them, or an interest in them. So even if the image is telling a story, it’s not a guarantee everyone will get it, so it may seem like no thought went into it.

However, while a slightly blurry image telling an amazing story can be a 5 star image, I wouldn’t quite say story is always essential. This is something I’m sure many people will disagree with, and they’re well within their right to do so. However, sometimes a well done photo is just a well done photo. If I see a street photography image without a story that I pick up on, but the composition, use of light, leading lines, colour, shapes, etc are spot on, that can still be a 5 star image for me, no story needed. To me a story is to street photography what perfect conditions are to a landscape, absolutely necessary... except when it isn’t.

Deleted Account's picture

Without really possessing any information at all, you're making an immense assumption about why I made my initial comment. It's neither a complaint or a justification of the standard of my own work. Kinda reinforces my point about a large section of the people on these kind of forums thinking they are definitively correct really.

Also, word to the wise - the rating system on here is not AT ALL objective.

Taylor MacDonald's picture

I'm still pushing for Arial photography as the next one! I really think that people sometimes have a hard time placing their shots in some of the past genres, so you end up with allot of submission that really don't fit our at least are a Stretch... Arial or drone photography is very different from what we normally see and it should be much easier to get submissions that clearly fit the theme!!!

Taylor MacDonald's picture

Also been reading through the comments... I happen to personally think most street photography looks like snapshots! However... Because I have no knowledge of the genre or really an interest to learn... I find it much easier to simply not vote on this genre!!!
While I personally appreciate constructive criticism on genres that I'm interested in, if you don't know what you are talking about, you are not being constructive! It's just like someone who doesn't like wine to trying a very expensive wine... They will probably still hate it...
Anyways personally if street photography isn't your thing leave the voting and comments to the people that do love it!

Bryan Butcher's picture

Where is the line between street photography and photo journalism? Both tell a story, both capture every day human life and interaction....both elicit core emotions with the viewer. I find the line to be quiet blurry at best.

Deleted Account's picture

There is some crossover but generally speaking photojournalism HAS to be a true reflection of what happened in a place and at a specific moment. It HAS to lend itself to storytelling and it CANNOT be manipulated for artistic licence. It is also taken in relation to a story/event that is newsworthy and is based on a photographer being sent on assignment to get those shots. Street photography sometimes has a few of these elements (hence the crossover) but is it usually completely unplanned and spontaneous (this is probably the key difference), there is greater artistic licence in terms of what aesthetic the street photographer is aiming for and with the best will in the world, it usually tells the story that the photographer wants to tell. For example, this can be through the playful use of juxtaposition to create humour, or it can be damned surreal in nature (neither of which would be commonly found in photojournalism). Sorry for the long winded answer but hopefully that helps. If it doesn't then the easiest way to find out is to look at some of the street photographers of the past as well as those which are more current. I would suggest Matt Stuart, Daniel Arnold and Pau Buscato (current) and Garry Winogrand, Bruce Gilden and Joel Meyerowitz (historical). If you look at their work, you should hopefully see with your own eyes what the distinction is. Take care, Andrew.

Chris Sampson's picture

Bryan,
I use it for both.
One picture I didn't submit but is my favorite features a local homeless man named Jesse who is super polite asking a wealthy businessman for a little help. The man said not a word and went up the steps to avoid being harassed. I didn't submit it because I didn't want to have to explain it. I titled it, "some are more equal than others".

https://fstoppers.com/photo/267586

Alejandro Ilukewitsch's picture

Easy in street you can bend reality, you can fake a moment a scene...in journalism that shouldnt be allowed. This is street....

https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-SgZ3Kfs/0/be3cb235/XL/i-SgZ3Kfs-XL.jpg

Alejandro Ilukewitsch's picture

is she dead? whats going? can be anything...also the image below.... no editing besides turning into black and white.... but id the person really that small? no is just perspectives...

https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-3qsspKv/0/888ebe1c/XL/i-3qsspKv-XL.jpg

Alejandro Ilukewitsch's picture

Or even this one.... still is street, could be journalism if i gave some context to it, but since its lacking context...

https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-VjgbrNx/0/75218a56/XL/i-VjgbrNx-XL.jpg

Rob Davis's picture

Generally I don't think pictures of peoples backs or people staring at their phone are going to be very interesting. These are generally things we all see everyday. What we don't do much is look right at someones face and engage them.

Daniel Lightfoot's picture

I hear ya, but look back at the masters of street-photography like Cartier-Bresson a lot of his most famous photographs is of people doing nothing. Now obviously with him, there was always a lot of geometry integrated into his composition (not only physical but also in terms of light) but more often than not, the people in his photographs weren't doing anything fantastic. But you fast-forward 50 years, I think people looking at an antiquated cell-phone will be pretty interesting.

Rob Davis's picture

Kind of like saying Ansel Adams photographed a lot of grass. I've seen pictures from that era of people reading news papers or books but there's also something else that draws you in. They're trying to do nothing, but their personality is popping out some how.

Chris Sampson's picture

Exactly, Daniel. I study their shots and I'm amazed at the beautiful view of people they present who are in some shots just walking by.

The shot I submitted of the woman standing at the pole looking forward with the man in foreground looking to the side was not a pic of people "doing something" yet they had character. She sat at that pole for nearly 20 minutes while my wife was shopping at stores next to us. I was fascinated at why she was just 'standing around' but having her face hidden by hat and glasses made it more interesting to me. The side shot I have of her is even more interesting yet just blurry enough I decided to avoid submitting it.

We now live in a culture where people are looking at their phones all day. I have a whole series of shots of people walking and looking at their cell phones. In total, they tell a modern story of "who we are".

I see street photography as capturing a moment that is unique but at the same time tells us a story we all relate to. Further, who is the person? what kind of day are they having? why do I get to be witness to their moment? is it compelling or too common.

Bryan Butcher's picture

One problem we have with images today?...everyone has an image device in their hands! Everyone is now a photographer! You said if you look at people today, they're all looking at their phones...many of them are looking at images either they took, or someone they know took! The challenge of the contemporary photographer is to capture images the layperson does not. How does your image of people standing on the street corner different from Joe Blow's iPhone 'snapshot' of people standing on the corner? We live in a very different time than Cartier-Bresson or Adams.

Daniel Lightfoot's picture

Bryan, I agree that due to the now over-saturated climate in terms of everyone having their hands on a camera raises the bar. I also agree that we live in a very different time than Cartier-Bresson and Ansel Adams, but the techniques that they used to elevate their art are still techniques that the average Joe Blow can't do. (I wanted to say Joe/Jane Blow, but that didn't sound right...anyway...)

The point is, when we as professionals go out and photograph street photography, we probably still shoot AS professionals. What do I mean? For example, if you were walking down the street in Hollywood where all the Look-Alikes hang out and you saw a bunch of Spidermans standing around close to each other...the laymen could walk up and snap a shot with their iPhone and it could be kind of interesting, hell, it could even go viral (although that's an entirely separate rant). But as seasoned photographers, we'd hopefully come away with something better. Whether it be lens choice, vantage point, or maybe we wait for one of them to step into that little beam of light making them the focus of the shot...or maybe it's just waiting for that "Decisive Moment".

Deleted Account's picture

Street photography should be interesting to look at. Simple as as that really.

David Pavlich's picture

For sure! I was fortunate to live just outside of New Orleans which has to be one of the best cities for a street photographer. So many people walking around New Orleans are taking pictures that you can walk down the street with a 5DIV, battery grip, and a 70-200 and nobody would notice you.

One of my favorite ways to shoot is to find a place that has potential for a good shot and just plant our butt there. The shot I submitted was captured in just that way. I haven't been there to see how the voting goes, but it really doesn't matter. It's a reminder of a terrific city that I miss.

Daniel Lightfoot's picture

Andrew, I totally agree. I posted a more in-depth statement about this above, but I just think as long as a professional photographer of any genre takes into account the techniques they've learned in their field, they stand a pretty good chance of getting an interesting image.

Deleted Account's picture

I've gone back and read your comment. The only thing that I would add is that when it comes to street photography, it really is meritorious, i.e. a good image will speak for itself, regardless of what the photographers training is. I would challenge whether it matters if the photographer is a professional or not. Most of the street photography techniques I've learnt have been learnt on the street itself through painstaking practice and couldn't really be taught in a classroom, or on a course. And even now, I don't think my images are anything that special. I might take two or three really good images a year. I shoot a tremendous volume of dross to reach the moment when a gem can be captured.

Daniel Lightfoot's picture

Yeah I can agree with that. Again, street photography isn’t something I shoot often or for any specific professional purpose, but it seems to be more difficult genre to be objective about.

Deleted Account's picture

Yeah, it's INCREDIBLY hard to be objective about. Part of that is that the genre is so broad as to be almost beyond definition. Also, it is intensely personal in a way that I'm not sure many (if any) other genre's of photography are.

Laurent Bourrelly's picture

True that.
You must "feel" something.
You’ll just either be captivated by a piece of art or you won’t.
That's why I like the "Keep" or "Ditch" from Arsbeta.com.
I just signed up on Fstoppers, and I'm getting to understand the scoring system.
It makes a lot of sense for commercial photography, but might be too complex for street photo.

Of course, there are technical considerations, but it might not be as important for street photo.
It's more or less about a general mood you want to give to the shot.

Alejandro Ilukewitsch's picture

People need to remember that the beauty of street photography, is that is an inclusive genre, everyone can do it. You dont need special equipment, you dont need a studio, model, anything, just a camera and a street :) This is also the same reason for which you have so many snapshots and pictures that just seem like the camera fired by mistake....You want do street? Just grab a camera and head to the streets, thats it. Street photography is about fun, some seem to forget it :)

colognepaparazzo's picture

I´m not so sure, this contest was the brightest idea.

With Lee and Patrick admitting in advance that they don´t know much about street photography and no clear definition of what street photography really is, hundreds of people entered photos in this contest showing literately everything from people on the streets, telling a story with their faces and expressions, up to just the empty sky, showing nothing.
In addition there is the rating system that calls a one star rating a snapshot, which is totaly misleading in this context because many photos, showing people in unexpected situations or surroundings are technically done as a snapshot and for catching these characters you do sometimes need to give some way to the technic because if you start getting the technic 100% right the moment is gone and you can´t repeat that.

So I´m not sure if I´m looking forward to see the final critique on youtube.

Alejandro Ilukewitsch's picture

A snapshot is a snapshot doesn't really matter the genre of photography....An unexpected situation doesnt fall within a snapshot when done right, light exposure, composition, if its missing those, doesnt matter the situation captured will still be a snapshot :)

Chris Sampson's picture

I'm perfectly content with Lee and Patrick doing an evaluation on the topic based on their experience in photography as a whole. It would be good of course to have it evaluated by someone who does street photography so better feedback on content would be discussed, yes. As for "snapshot", it implies no thought or technique is used to capture a moment. While I certainly would love master level training so I had all the rules down perfectly, well tested, and evaluated by master photogs, I know that the ones I submitted were a result of taking hundreds of photos that day and my trigger finger is wired to look for a scene, a story, a moment, that I then want to capture.

The ones I submitted were from my LA visit a few weeks ago. I had a blast shooting hundreds of street shots of people and yet the surprise was found after I went through them. The ones I was so excited about were not as strong as some surprises. There were some I was certain were going to tell big grand stories but ultimately felt cliche and worn out. Street photography happens in a split second vs the well planned shots of a studio or an arranged photo shoot.

That said, the masters mentioned above were well suited for doing street photography based on their expertise in composition, timing, and photo techniques. I've studied the work of Vivian Maier, John Free, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Joel Meyerowitz and many others. It is hard to be "perfect" at this nearly impulsive art but one should try to go for it anyway.

Last, personal style. I don't like photo clones, repetition that leaves me wishing I'd seen the original artist who mastered the composition I'm seeing. In street photography, there are so many types of styles one could take it can become tedious to enjoy shot after shot, but it is important to enjoy this work. I've seen technically perfect pictures that say nothing and sloppy technique pictures that say a lot. I prefer seeing a story.

Thank you to everyone who put up a photo for the contest. I know many don't really seem to be "street photography" as much as photography in streets, but all the same, it is great to see the creative energy of everyone involved.

Patrick Meulnet's picture

Not mentioned in your post (probably under the "many others" though), another famous (in Japan only?) street photography artist is Daido Moriyama (80yo as of today),
Some exemple of his early work:
https://www.sleek-mag.com/article/daido-moriyama/
and a small youtube the way he works, about snapshots, about monochrome photos:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foWAs3V_lkg

Cheers

Chris Sampson's picture

Thank you Patrick. I'll check him out.

Bryan Butcher's picture

So...street photography, according to Moriyama...is anything captured between interactions of elements in the city. He never mentions composition, or any other principle of art...it's all emotion. Street photographs ARE in essence....snapshots. I did appreciate his take on black and white....color is 'vulgar'...lol

Jordan McChesney's picture

Perhaps this is just my opinion, but there seems to be some confusion between "street photography" and "a photo I took while I was a on a street"

Maybe this could lead to an interesting conversation, but I don't consider long exposures of buildings and light streaks or sunsets as their main subjects to be "street photography" per se. Thoughts on this?

Deleted Account's picture

Well....I don't even like my photographs to be defined under the genre of 'street photography'. I might take backstage photo's in the theatre group I'm part of that are candid, I might take photo's on the streets of Glasgow, I might be on the street and decide to include people (or not), I might photograph geometric shapes formed by buildings and shadows, the list goes on. I take my camera out and I shoot what pleases my eye and what (I hope) pleases the eyes of even a few other individuals.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

True, but the question is not should people place building pictures in the contest, but more are they getting the right guidance by more experienced photographers on the topic. I am waiting for Fstoppers video comments when the contest is closed to see if they will tackle that part of topic because that's in theory the closing everyone should take the time to watch and possibly learn from.

Chris Sampson's picture

I considered this last night as I did my usual late walk in my neighborhood. I consider "street photography" an exploration of Life on the streets. This might include public workers, people walking and out for a stroll, street performers in the midst of their work, etc. But pictures of "the street" aren't exactly what I consider street photography. Then I think of pics I took of signs, odd scenes etc, and back to that, I consider those "street photography" sometimes.

Francisco B's picture

I looked at the definition on wikipedia and think it's unclear. Street photography is exploration of an urban environment, usually (but not always) including a street in the image. I disagree with the notion that street photography is exclusively for journalistic purposes, that is simply one of its many sub genres.

larum's picture

Don’t trust Wikipedia.

larum's picture

Street photography in my opinion should show a situation that just happened on a street/in the streets and the photograph has to transport a story, emotion or at least touch the viewer emotionally. It’s about the life of us humans with/without animals that are around us depending on the continent, environment or culture.

Laurent Bourrelly's picture

IMO, street photo doesn't have to take place in the street.
Any public place will do.

However, you must have people in the picture.

Also, photojournalism and street photography are very similar genres.
In my series, I tried to mix both. The event was news worthy, but I took a street photo angle on it.

Since I got killed on scores, I guess it didn't work ^^

Alejandro Ilukewitsch's picture

I wouldn't rely much in the scores given by the people here, just scroll through most of the submissions and you will understand why...anyways if you want my opinion on your picts, i think the issue is that they are not strong enough, and in journalism only two things sell, the story and how strong the image is. And here since you can only show one image, it needs to be stronger.

Laurent Bourrelly's picture

It was my first upload. I just registered to fstoppers.
Now I see why it's not working. I don't think "not strong enough" is the word. Isn't "not appropriate" more suitable?
I took a risk and it didn't pay off. No big deal. There are some great images in there (and many snapshots of course).
I don't know how to look at your submissions, but I love your photos. They are very strong indeed. Thanks for the feedback.

Alejandro Ilukewitsch's picture

Thanks for your comments! And for passing by to look at some of my images.

These are the two picts i posted for the contest. Perhaps not pure street photography, but is what I like shooting mostly in the streets :)

https://fstoppers.com/entry/318545

And

https://fstoppers.com/entry/319308

Laurent Bourrelly's picture

The second one, with the cop, is a winner.
I don't understand how people voted 3. I think it's a 4 or even a 5.
You got serious skills and talent.

Alejandro Ilukewitsch's picture

Hi Laurent, once more thanks!

Alexander Bryant's picture

Maybe this is an opinion not a ton of people share, but I kinda wish there were more comments on photos. I know the photography community can be one of the more toxic, I mean I've seen people get mean, but if you have a thought about a photo, I think people should be a little more forthcoming and feel comfortable posting it.

Jordan McChesney's picture

I don’t think this is too much to ask. It’s be a long-standing concern with the contests. Abnormally low ratings without feedback. I try to give feedback to any photos I rate, especially 2s. The best we can do is lead by example and try to create the community we want to be a part of.

I know some people can be “toxic” but I spend a lot of time on r/photocritque, and while the people there aren’t professional level, the majority of them remain civil. That could possibly be due to the lack of a rating system, or the fact that it’s not a competion, or maybe even because most are just there for fun. However it does show that people can take the time to critique and comment without getting toxic. I mean if Reddit can remain civil, I’d certainly hope people here could.

Alexander Bryant's picture

I agree, I think we can definitely remain civil. But that's true, I'll make sure to do that from now on, I usually do comment when I give lower scores, but I can't say I've been perfect on that. Leading by example may be just the ticket here.

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