Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Street Photography


I have many very old family photographs that I am in the process of  sorting and scanning.  Street photography was popular during the 1940's, particularly during WWII.  I have always been fascinated by such pictures for they capture an unexpected moment of everyday life.  This photograph shows my uncle, aunt and my mother.  It was most likely taken in their home town which at the time was Fort Smith, Arkansas.  My uncle was probably home for a short visit before he went overseas. My father had already gone, so my mother was spending time with her brother and his wife.

I have a few other similar photos of family members during that time period.  I love such pictures for the piece of history they capture.  I was curious about the history of this practice and did a little searching on Google.  I found much more than I had anticipated about this style of photography and I learned it has been around almost as long as photography itself.  In fact, it is still a popular style although I was not aware of that.  Some photographers concentrate on architecture while others feature mainly people.  There have been many famous street photographers through the years including Ansel Adams.

I have often wondered if many other people had these types of photographs of their family members?  I assume it popular in countries other than the U.S. in the past?  Is anyone here aware of  current street photographers?  I see photography as a beautiful art form and when it is also used to capture history it becomes even more, for now and the future.


   

 

33 comments:

  1. This is the type of people picture that I love...unposed, caught in the moment. I would love to do it but since I hate my photo being taken, though I would not mind if it was as I was doing something...anyway, I hesitate. I hope you show more photos...on my side of the family, there are so very few photos of any of us. Just sort of sad.

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    1. I love these pictures too. It's like a moment in time frozen and brought to the current time. I am sorry there are not a lot of photos from your family. Something tells me you are changing this for the next generation since you take many photos.

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  2. I hadn't heard of the term "street photography" before this, believe it or not :)

    All of the old photos I have on both sides of my family are taken at home rather than in public spaces, so I believe they would not be considered street photography. Even wedding photos were taken at home or the home of a family friend. Very different from the type of picture you show here.

    I love old pictures, too. It doesn't matter whether I know the folks or places in them. They are just fascinating to me.

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    1. Street photography may not have been popular in all areas and I know it was more common in larger cities. Like you, I love all old photos. They take us back to another time and that is fascinating.

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  3. I indulged in street photography thirty or so years ago, but privacy is such a issue now that I don't do it any more.

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    1. How interesting that you used to do that Joanne. I can sure understand how you could run into privacy and possibly even legal issues these days.

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  4. I love pictures like this, but don't know anything "street photography". To me, women were more beautiful back then. I love their dresses and shoes, their hair styles. Your mother was sure pretty and so petite.

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    1. I love these old photos too. It seems like the women's styles were more feminine in those days. Thanks for you sweet comment Henny!

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  5. My Grandma had many of these photos of herself and other family.

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  6. Did your Grandma live in Canada at the time the photos were taken? That is interesting that she had many of them. Pictures like this are a great view of another time.

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  7. Your mother's two-piece and her hairstyle are lovely, she was beautiful and looks very young in this picture.
    There are a handful of street photographs in my parents' old albums, each of them capturing a moment of private and public history at the same time.
    When I am out and about, I try to avoid people when I take pictures of the places I visit; I want to remember the place, not the people, and when I want to remember people, it's my friends and family so that I take pictures of them specifically. I guess I will never make a good street photographer :-)

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    1. My Mother was in her early 20's in that picture and had my two older brothers but I was not born until 1952. I do love the style the women had back in those days.

      Like you I could never take pictures of strangers but only of friends and family. I have just been fascinated by this style of photography which seems to occupy a particular niche.

      It is interesting that your parents' albums have some street photographs. I guess this style was popular in some European countries at one time as well.

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  8. I live in Australia and grew up in Melbourne it,s capital city. My mother had some street photos taken in the forties and fifties. They must have been quite cheap l think as she never had a lot of money to spend. Your photo is beautiful thanks for sharing best wishes marie

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    1. Hi Marie, it is good to see you here! The picture I posted is from the forties so I guess that was a more popular time period for this style of photography. I imagine these photos were inexpensive here too as I know my mother would not have been able to get them otherwise. It is interesting to me to see this was also popular in Australia at that time period. Thank you Marie!

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  9. I remember 1950s and 1960s street photographers at the seaside suddenly jumping out and taking your photograph and handing you a slip of paper with a number. Not sure how payment worked - you probably had to pay at least a deposit if you wanted the picture and then collect it the next day. I've been sorting some my dad kept which will probably lead to blog posts.

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    1. How interesting that you remember this from the seaside, although that makes sense I guess to get people on holiday. My mother had several of these types of photos from the 1940's and maybe the 1950's as well.

      I will look forward to any blog posts you do on this type of photography. For that matter I find any of the old photos to be very interesting. It was another time and another world and is nice to visit what life was for our ancestors. Thank you Tasker.

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  10. I love photos like this, and I've always been slightly envious of street photographers. They have courage that I lack. I'm too self conscious to take candid photos of people. I kind of afraid of making someone angry.

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    1. I am just like you Sharon. I could never take photos like these of people I did not know. But I do enjoy seeing these photos because they give of a slice of life many years ago in a manner that we might not otherwise be able to see. I am fascinated by all old photos but this style seems to be a bit more unique. Thanks for stopping by Sharon!

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  11. The street photos are more interesting than posed I think.

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  12. Hi Sue, I'm so glad you came by. I agree with you that any photo that is natural and not posed is much more interesting. I would not be able to take this type of photo but I do find them interesting and I love all old photos.

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  13. I wonder if that photo was taken by an opportunist street photographer who might have then given his card to your uncle and said, "Check in at my studio tomorrow and you can buy the picture!" It doesn't seem posed but natural. By the way, I love your mum's hairstyle - so 1940's!

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    1. You are correct, the picture was taken by a street photographer and is definitely not posed. It is the natural setting and aspect of these pictures that I like. I know they did buy the photo but I don't know exactly how it was worked out and it was not expensive. I think this style was popular in the 1940's. I love my mom's picture and style too!

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  14. Yes, I'm curious as to how they got the photos to them? Did they give them a card with a shop where they could come pick them up? Would they have paid the photographer, given them an address, and had them mailed? Or did they mail the pictures and hope they sent them back the money? There were no polaroids back then. How did they do it? If they were from out of town they probably couldn't just drop by in a day or two to get them. There had to be a method the photographers used if it was a common practice. :)

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  15. I don't remember how my mom said the purchase of the picture was arranged and I can't ask now as everyone in the photo has passed. I do know street photography was popular in the 1940's. I have a few other pictures similar to this and I've always loved them because they show a moment out of the past in a very natural form.

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  16. I have one picture of my mother like this out with three friends walking on a road and all wearing hiking shorts. Although she did tell me where it was taken I never asked her why it was taken or who took it. It was taken in the 1930s before she was married. Your photo reminds me of that photo, and my mother in other photos in the 1940s, including her wedding photo. Thank you for sharing, Bonnie.

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  17. These old photographs of our families have a lot of meaning don't they Rachel? I may post some more at another time as I have a lot to get organized. I would love to see some of yours sometime too. It's almost like stepping back in the past when you see these. Thank you Rachel.

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    1. I think you have seen most of the ones I have. The one I describe in the comment is actually in my brother's possession and the image is in my head and I am unlikely to get the actual photo back again as I am rarely in touch with him.

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  18. Yes I love all old photos of people doing everyday things:)

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  19. These old photos are very special aren't they! I love your Forgotten Photo site and reading about how you reunite so many people with their family photos.

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  20. Yes, we had them in New Zealand. I have a photo of my mother and two of her sisters, taken as they walked down the street. Love them, so natural.

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    1. Hi Pauline, thank you for your comment! It is neat to hear that these type of pictures were taken in New Zealand as well. Was the picture you have taken in the 1940's or more recently? I have read that these types of pictures have been taken recently but most that I have seen were from the 1940's. Maybe it was just more popular then. I love all of these old photos. They really take you back to another time.

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  21. I have a black and white photo of my Nan and Granddad striding arm in arm along the street in England along a sea front. It must have been taken in the late 1930's. I have no idea who the photographer was! :)

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  22. What a wonderful picture for you to have of your grandparents! Tasker (above) mentioned some seaside street photographers too. A picture like you have will be something to pass down in your family. I wonder if those photographers realized what a piece of history they were capturing at the time?!

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I would love to hear from you!