Masters of Street Photography On View At UK's Format Festival

Posted by David Ozanich — 11 Mar 2011

NYC1963.jpgNew York City, 1963 by Joel Meyerowitz

Street photography from around the world is the focus of the Format Festival's "Right Here, Right Now: Exposures From the Public Realm" exhibition in Derby, UK. Several masters of the genre are on view, including Joel Meyerowitz whose pictures are seen in this post.

The Guardian's Sean O'Hagan uses his "On Photography" column to examine Meyerowitz's style. He writes:

Meyerowitz's tactic is to blend in and be as invisible as possible, to watch for what he calls "significant gestures" - a hug, a punch, a fall - that might make a snatched street photograph memorable. "If you want to get up close to people," he once said, "you have to find a body language that does not threaten them in any way." He compared his approach to that of a boxer, who "bobs and weaves and feints", but he appears to be more of a dancer, forever shape-shifting in order to catch his subjects at their most natural.


That is the particular genius of the great street photography of whatever hue. As the young British practitioner, Matt Stuart, recently put it, street photography "is walking out into the world to see what happens ... looking for that brilliant moment that 99% of the time you won't get". Today, one senses, it is the Meyerowitz tradition that most young photographers adapt for their own ends. The streets have changed, and so has photography. In the digital age, invisibility seems the best option, if only to set the serious street photographer apart from the legions of people wandering around with compact digital cameras and camera-phones at the ready.

A gallery of his pictures can be found here. The show is on view until April 3rd.

camelcoats.jpgCamel Coats, 5th Avenue, New York City, 1975

florida1968.jpgFlorida, 1968

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