Street Photography is such a loaded term, an all encompassing but very limiting definition. A good ninety per cent plus of my photography has been in the urban environment- yet I would never consider myself a "street photographer." That title conjures up names like Winogrand, Mermelstein, Gilden- photographers best known for their slice of life compositions of people going about their roles in the theatre of life; photographers practicing environmental street portraiture, if you will. Densely populated urban areas (eg- NYC) induce this type of photography- environments that deny one a background and a horizon line cause one to alter perception, approach, subject matter, style. Lee Friedlander said as much when stating that all the normal rules of photographic composition get tossed when photographing in New York.
But many other photographers who photograph the urban environment are not immediately recognized as "street photographers." They photograph the urban landscape, and the compositions therein, more or less regardless of the people that inhabit it- Friedlander himself would fall into that category. Then there are those who accentuate and incorporate the various relationships between man and his urban surroundings- Thomas Roma, Henry Wessel, Martin Parr...
I realize street photography hasn't been in vogue for years, neither has jazz- and that doesn't mean I'd mock jazz musicians or their art form, just because I can't appreciate them. If an artist has "mastered" a particular art form (such as street photography) and has gone unto bigger and better pastures like a young Picasso or Meyerowitz, I could then understand the arrogance of a remark like "walk down the street if you like street photography," otherwise... But I digress.
There's a really good interview (not just concerning street photography) with Jeff Ladd at Blake Andrew's blog (via 2 point 8). After the interview, make sure to check out Mr. Ladd's sight, the sheer eloquence of which will not disappoint.
photos: Jeff Ladd