I’ve been shooting street photography longer than I’m able to remember. I don’t say that to brag. Rather, I was taking photos that were considered street photography without knowledge of the genre.
I did not study photography in a formal manner. I was not familiar with many of the great photographers who were later given the title street photographer.
Without the internet and the ability to discover different forms of photography, I just kept snapping away at everything and anything. When first starting out in photography it’s like learning a new language and learning to control the camera. To make the tool work for you.
At one point after exhausting the typical stuff, I decided that I’d like to become an architectural photographer. You know those very cool photos that you see in Architectural Digest? Well, kind of like that but I’ve always liked the character of urban buildings. The older ones. They have more style and individuality for me.
So I started taking lots of photos of doors, windows and eventually entire buildings. The problem was that people kept walking into my photos. One day I lost my patience, as I am known to do, and I continued to take photos of buildings with people passing through them.
I call this my happy accident. When someone saw some of my photos he said cool street photography. My response was, what’s street photography? Hence, I don’t know the exact first street photos, time or place when it all began. Perhaps that isn’t really important.
Metadata doesn’t exist for film photos and I never really kept track of it and even now I need to go through more than 40 years of negatives and slides. It will take quite a few rainy days to conquer that!
At any rate, I thought perhaps it would be a good thing to provide some of the backstory before diving into this issue on documentary photography.