I ask Meyerowitz about the combative, confrontational style of street photography espoused by the likes of fellow New Yorker Bruce Gilden, and he grows visibly angry for the only time in our conversation. “He’s a f**king bully. I despise the work, I despise the attitude, he’s an aggressive bully and all the pictures look alike because he only has one idea – ‘I’m gonna embarrass you, I’m going to humiliate you.’ I’m sorry, but no.”
Meyerowitz says that his street photography style is based on his boxer father’s advice to “pay attention” and anticipate the actions of the people he photographed. So here’s the difference between these two famous street photographers: one anticipates, and the other instigates.
Bellamy Hunt over at Japan Camera Hunter has a fascinating account of what it’s like to attend a photography workshop taught by famed street photographer Bruce Gilden, a “famously outspoken photographer who does not mince his words”:
[Gilden] has no love for camera geeks and when he was told I am one he was not overly impressed, as he said “it is merely a tool, a box” [...] Gilden tests you, and when he asked me a question that I was unsure of the answer and tried to bluff my way through to he called me out as a bullsh*tter (true though, my fault really). Gilden likes to ask direct questions, and one of his first was “Do you want to be a photographer?” I replied in the affirmative, to which he said “why?” I was not really able to explain why in a direct manner and he pounced! “So why did you bother coming?” [...] He then told me that if I was looking for inspiration or a kick up the ass then I was in the wrong place as I would not get it from him, it must come from me (which is actually a fair point).
At this point Gilden asked to see my work [...] I had not really been able to put together a coherent selection of my work and Gilden pointed out that fact. In fact I think his words were something to the tune of “Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t. What were you thinking? This is no connection. You are lazy”. At first I was hurt and offended, but after a few minutes of thinking about this (while he tore into someone else) I realised that he was right. I have been lazy and I have not thought out my work properly in the past. I have been coasting along and not putting the effort into it that I could be [...] So after tearing myself and the other students a new one I was set a task by Gilden.
Everybody Street is an upcoming documentary film about New York City street photographers (e.g. Bruce Gilden and Joel Meyerowitz) who have taken some of the most iconic images of the past century. Created by photographer Cheryl Dunn, the film was originally a 36-minute short film, but is being expanded into a feature length movie. Read more…
Here’s a video in which renowned street photographer Joel Meyerowitz shows us his method of doing street photography. His quiet, friendly, and “invisible” style is quite different from Bruce Gilden’s in-your-face technique. The New Yorker also has a great video on Meyerowitz’s photography.
If you want to do street photography, attacking people with cameras like Fabio Pires does in London probably isn’t the way you should go about doing it — unless you’re trying to give photography a bad name. Does anyone know of any good behind-the-scenes videos of good (and candid) street photography being done in a respectable way?
Here’s a behind-the-scenes video showing Chinese photographer ERIC getting up close and personal with strangers on the streets of Hong Kong and Mainland China. He uses a Mamiya 7II and a large Metz flash, chewing through medium format film as though he was shooting digital. It’s interesting to see how people in China seem less defensive about this kind of photography compared to people in New York, Derby, or Hollywood.
Street photographer Bruce Gilden has a pretty distinct style of getting into strangers’ faces and firing off a flash held in his other hand. Eric Kim — who recently started doing street photography full-time — created this behind-the-scenes video showing himself employing Gilden’s trademark style, though instead of a Leica he uses a Canon 5D. The lens he’s using is a Canon 24mm f/2.8, and the flash is a YN-560.
Magnum street photographer Bruce Gilden shoots his candid portraits on sidewalks by walking right up to strangers and sticking his camera and flash up into their faces, as seen in the “walking NYC streets” video we featured last year. In the behind-the-scenes video above, British Journal of Photography editor Olivier Laurent follows Gilden around as he shoots a project in Derby, England.