I recommend this movie. To me, it exemplifies the power of street work as social commentary and documentary. Time certainly changes how we view images, but what is striking in the movie is how so many photographers had body of work in mind. Serendipity on the street, of course, but we also make our own luck.
It also highlights the work of several female street photographers, beyond Diane Arbus and Mary Ellen Mark. Jill Freedman and Rebecca Lepkoff both left substantive and important bodies of work, and Martha Cooper is still working.
‘EVERYBODY STREET, directed by Cheryl Dunn, illuminates the lives and work of New York’s iconic street photographers – including Bruce Davidson, Mary Ellen Mark, Elliott Erwitt, Ricky Powell and Jamel Shabazz – and the incomparable city that has inspired them for decades. Shot by renowned photographer Cheryl Dunn on both black and white 16mm film and color HD, the documentary pays tribute to the spirit of street photography through a cinematic exploration of New York City, and captures the visceral rush, singular perseverance and at times immediate danger customary to these artists’.
New York, post WWII, was the epicentre of street photography, probably through the 1980s. It is interesting how many used Leicas, presumably for the size, and also how many still ‘swear’ by using film. As Brice Davidson said, using large format film also encourages collaboration on the street..
There are a few quotes in the movie which caught my attention.
[With digital and the internet] ‘… everyone is a photographer, now. There’s a lot of crap, but there’s also a lot of genius waiting to be discovered’.
‘It’s ludicrous that people go on about … [digital versus film].
“It’s about people’s privacy, so handle that in a picture’.
Bruce made a point of giving his subjects, even NY Gang Members, copies of the pictures.
And perhaps this is my favourite quote, as it echoes a lot of how I strive to practice street photography.
‘I find it very difficult to take a photograph of someone without them knowing. Occasionally, I will. But there’s still something magical about approaching a stranger and convincing the that you are sincere’.
Mick Yates. 2016. New York City.
Header: Mick Yates. 2016. New York City.