Walking NYC Streets with Bruce Gilden

This fascinating video shows how Magnum photographer Bruce Gilden does his street photography in New York City. If you’ve ever wondered what kind of person it takes to capture closeup shots of people in a place like NYC, this video may be very interesting to you. He’s the complete opposite of someone who stands on the other side of the street, using a telephoto to “get close”.

(via Reddit)

  • Eugene

    I've seen this video before, and I am NOT a fan of this guy's approach/work.

    I would never do what this guy does. I guess Bruce has built a reputation for himself for doing what he does, so he has to continue the legacy…

  • Rodger Obley

    I agree with Eugene.

    “I have no ethics” That quote right there says enough for me. I'm not trying to hate on him, to each his own. I just think his approach is rather inconsiderate.

  • Mark

    His method seems brash, invasive, self-serving, unapologetic….C'est New York…and the images are great. He does what he does. Now seeing how it is done I'm sure anyone could get equal results, but I wouldn't have the gull, myself. More power to him.

  • JessicaLum

    What's interesting is that he's become one of the characters on the streets of NYC, instead of the distant fly on the wall. When I shoot in public, I find myself suddenly shy, reserved, and almost afraid to use my camera. I probably could never, and would rather not walk around like this guy, but a little assertiveness is necessary with street photography.

  • Name

    there was a movie on the IFC not to long ago about several photogs and how they do thier work. One was an older guy, who's name escapes me, who does the exact opposite of what this guy does. How this guy does not get punched in the throat in a place like NYC is beyond me. also, where's the model release? unless he has an unseen lacky following him around with a pad of releases.

  • lanceanz

    Sure wouldn't win any friends in NZ. When photography students are sent into Wellington's main street I'm amused to see them using tripods – in the middle of the footpath. I suspect their results are the opposite of Bruce Gilden's. Of course his results are interesting, and the subjects likely smile if they see them. But yeah, he's rude as hell.

  • Aled Evans

    what's the legality of doing something like this? i've never taken any street photography but I assumed you had to ask permission before you took someone's photograph. could these people sue / request that their image isn't used?

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  • Richard

    How many people who think this is brash/rude would take a similar picture with a longer lens without the subject's knowledge and if you'd do that, what's the difference?

    This video has been discussed to death in many places and I find it fascinating that the most self-riteous critics of Gilden do street photography themselves in less “in your face” ways. I don't see the difference really: if you're going to invade someone's privacy have the guts to let them see what you're doing.

  • 08studio

    Yo le pego un par de piñas en la cara si me toma una foto de esa manera, no me importa que tenga una “reputación” es un tipo que espanta y agrede con su método, yo le patearía el culo!

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  • Sergei Zhukov

    used in commercial advertising – sue the socks off the dude, used for art – smile and move along:) out on the streets no one needs to ask permission. Notice, it’s a big city and people have little personal space so he can get in their face with a wide angle before they even notice anything.
     Some results are quite curious. 

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  • Dertur

    I do not like it at all !!!
    Most of the time, he is just scaring old people or women.

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  • Fvgaddis

    I can’t say that I would appreciate being shot by him, but as much as I hate to admit it, really like the work.  He reminds me a modern-day Weegee, but more tame.

  • Felicia V. Gaddis

    I can’t say that I would appreciate being shot by him, but as much as I
    hate to admit it, really like the work.  He reminds me a modern-day
    Weegee, but more tame.

  • Regina Mullen

    To put a different spin on it, if the attitude of the photographer carries through the lens (and I believe it does), what Gilden is taking a picture of is HIMSELF. And, to my eyes, it shows extreme narcissism, aggression and alienation. Which is valid, but as a street photographer, I prefer the reserve of distance and trying very hard NOT to insert myself into the photo so aggressively. I’d rather people not know I was there, than to force an emotion on them by disrupting their energy for selfish purposes the way he does.

  • flightofbooks

    the difference in taking a picture with a telephoto is that you wouldn’t be physically confronting, obstructing, and downright bullying people.

    the problem isn’t that he takes pictures of people. it’s that he’s kind of a jackass when he does it. he’s not invading their privacy, he’s invading their personal space.

    if you don’t see the difference, then you’re probably not someone I would want anywhere near me.

  • flightofbooks

    Taking a picture of someone in public is perfectly legal in the United States, and most other countries (although there are some weird gray areas in some European countries). There are civil liability issues related to publishing such photos but basically as long as it’s not for commercial use it’s all good.

    However, what Gilden does, getting right in people’s faces and even blocking them in, could be considered harassment, disorderly conduct, or even simple assault.

    But New Yorkers are pushy people by nature, so maybe that’s considered socially acceptable there.

  • flightofbooks

    model releases aren’t required for non-commercial use, e.g. news coverage which is technically what this falls into.

    definitely with you in wondering how this guy hasn’t gotten stabbed or something.

  • Richard

    I see the difference and you don’t have to be a “Gilden” about it. Your past paragraph is rude and in my face.

  • flightofbooks

    Seems like my point was well made then.

  • Elizabeth Krill

    How can he use these candid shots without getting a release form signed by the subjects? I’ve always been told I had to do this.