A Study of Light, Shadows, and Framing: Street Photos by Ray Metzker


American photographer Ray K. Metzker has had a long and distinguished career in photography, and is well known for his cityscape and landscape images. Many of his street photographs exhibit what Henri Cartier-Bresson refers to as the “Decisive Moment” — that moment in which all the subjects and details in a scene come together just perfectly in your viewfinder.

While viewing the small collection of Metzker’s work collected in this post, check out how the photographer framed the light, shadow, and lines in each of the shots:











Here’s a short biography on Metzker by the New York City-based Laurence Miller Gallery:

Metzker was born in 1931 in Milwaukee and attended the Institute of Design, Chicago–a renowned school that had a few years earlier been dubbed the New Bauhaus– from 1956 to 1959. He was thus an heir to the avant-garde photography that had developed in Europe in the 1920’s. Early in his career, his work was marked by unusual intensity. Composites, multiple-exposure, superimposition of negatives, juxtapositions of two images, solarization and other formal means were part and parcel of his vocabulary. He was committed to discovering the potential of black and white photography during the shooting and the printing, and has shown consummate skill in each stage of the photographic process. Ray Metzker’s unique and continually evolving mastery of light, shadow and line transform the ordinary in the realm of pure visual delight.

Major American museums began showing an interest in Metzker’s work in the 1960’s. Cementing his reputation as a master photographer, the museum of Modern Art in New York gave him his first one-man show in 1967. Retrospectives were organized in 1978 by the International Center of Photography in New York, and in 1984 by the Museum of fine Arts in Houston. The Houston exhibit was subsequently shown at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, the International Museum of Photography, Rochester, and the National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC.

Head on over to the Laurence Miller Gallery website to see many more of Metzker’s photographs.

Ray K. Metzker [Laurence Miller Gallery via Slate]

Thanks for sending in the tip, Phil!

Image credits: Photographs by Ray Metzker, courtesy of the Laurence Miller Gallery

  • Mick O

    Stuff like this keeps me going

  • Zachary Larsen

    So does this mean that street photography is more than just taking random, poorly composed and poorly focused images of people in public? Hmmm… But seriously, these are stellar images!

  • etothej

    THIS is photography

  • Sergio45

    agree 100%

  • elispector

    Terrific stuff

  • Ariel Glaze

    This is the work of a master of his craft. Thanks for inspiring me.

  • Backonthestreetnmotivated

    Wonderful! Thank you for posting this article.

  • Samcornwell

    Kids, pay attention.

  • MikeAlgar42

    This is the sort of photograph I see in my head but can never quite put it together.

  • DamianMonsivais

    Yes, yes it is.

  • streetshooter

    Yes Ray K has been on my Radar for a very long time, about 20+ years ago I heard about this guy, he has up till now influenced only other influencers. Like Trent Parke.

  • Nanang Kusuma


  • Jack

    So fake. You can totally tell they were from Instagram.

  • PadiCR

    same as me… sometimes I want to have a camera implanted in my eyes..hehe

  • Greg Planchuelo

    Ray has also been on my Raydar for quite some time ;)

    He is just terrific.

  • William O Brien

    As well as great photography, I suspect there is a great darkroom printer involved as well

  • youone

    This is how you do it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!