I was asked by someone recently, what is the difference between "street photography" and everyday "snapshots"? Isn't everyone with cell phone or any other camera on the street doing "street photography"?
Below is my answer.
(Please note, this is not an article resulting from a long thought process – this is just "from top of my head". Also, I just started exploring street photography, I have close to zero knowledge of the "theory" of the genre – so, just take it as my "uneducated" opinion
Critique, comments, disagreements – all welcome!)
The difference between "street photography" and "snapshots", in my opinion, can be summarized quite simply: Street photography is a form of art, while snapshots are not.
Street photography, unlike a snapshot, does not aim to document a particular event, a place, people etc. As any art it deals with abstraction. The subject of street photography is abstract: interaction of a person and his environment, momentarily interactions between people, a human being in its natural state etc. There are no recognizable people, but strangers; no places that meant to be recognized – just "street".
In the age of color photography, majority of contemporary street photographers work in black and white, bringing more abstraction into their work.
A pronounced subjectivity, an artist's vision of the world, often seen in street photographs - distance it further from snapshots.
Street photography uses artistic methods (composition, light, point of view etc.) to bring attention to their subject. Like in any art, the form is at least as important as content…
There is no concrete definition of street photography. Often the boundary between snapshots, photojournalism, documentary photography and street photography cannot be clearly defined. So, this is kind of my "idealistic" look at the genre, and at how it is different from other, seemingly similar products of photo camera.