What makes a street photography or environmental portrait spectacular is time. If you deconstruct and image from Vivian Maier (see image above) we would see two young girls, laughing and playing on the street. The motion of the jump rope flying over their head is wonderful and the girl's expression brings it all to life. But the "special sauce" is the time, the girl's coats, shoes and the car in the background. Even the sign above the battered door speaks of a different time.
The image on the bottom of this post is one I took on the streets of Antwerp earlier this year. The image called to me because a young girl in a hijab was playing a pickup basketball game. She did not know the male players but just stepped in and began playing. They passed her the ball and congratulated her on good shots. They played as if nothing were different about the game. In todays context the image is a powerful one yet it was taken recently.
The image below is well composed, it tells a story deeper than a simple street scene, it freezes the action and the main subject happens to be lit with the sun through the trees. While I believe this image is currently a half step above a snapshot, it does not posses the power of an image taken in a time gone by.
I wonder what this image will be like in 30 years? Will we have become more tolerant and the image only be seen as a window into the odd clothing people once wore? Will we be less tolerant and the image stand as a testament to a time when we were better? Will population growth force the closure of such neighborhood basketball courts so that we will look at it and wonder where they all went?
Not really sure, but I believe that in 30 years this picture may be a full step above a snapshot...all I have to do is give it a bit of time...
Patrick...confirmed film & digital photography addict.