A few weeks ago I found a link to a free photography ebook while browsing Flipboard. This ebook - entitled Street Photography for the Purist - was put together by L.A photographer Chris Weeks and features works and commentaries from several great photographers.
For me though, the commentary that stands out is the one from Weeks himself which, appropriately enough, is the last one in the book. It's essentially an impassioned rant on his definition of street photography, of the required tools, attitude and technique.
Now I have to say there are lots of points I don't agree with. For instance, I don't subscribe to the notion that you need to shoot film because that's what the masters were using - for all we know, HCB and Frank would be using iPhones today. Or lusting after the X100 (don’t get me started).
To be fair, the book was written in 2005 and digital technology has made pretty gigantic leaps since then. Still, Alex Majoli was creating stunning photojournalistic work with his Olympus P&S at the time - proving that tools matter little in the face of creativity.
But this book is still a really great read. Weeks has some Kerouac in him. Not so much in the poetics or the overall form of the discourse but in the irreverence, the flow and the rhythm. The stubbornness. His passion for street photography comes through like a fist through the wall and it's hard not to feel engaged by his vision and the resulting photographs. Strongly recommended if you’re at all interested in this art form.
In the immortal words of Jack himself: You got eyes.
I just found out that Weeks has a Vimeo page where you can find a three-part documentary that’s essentially a follow-up to the book. A lot of breathtaking photography, inspiring really. Weeks also addresses the film/digital debate that was stirred by the original release - he now shoots an M9.
He also reiterates - along with others - the importance of stealth for street shooters. I agree. It’s pretty much the whole reason I’ve ordered the X100: I want invisibility. I want to be the spy and shoot from the hip while people scream or just walk on by. And while I like the picture, I’d like to avoid this:
And you know what? I didn't even have the SLR to my face. I was shooting from the hip, pre-focused. No fooling her though...