Having recently visited the London Street Photography exhibition at The Museum of London, I thought it appropriate to scribe a few words about this uber-trendy genre of photography. Initially, I intended to write a bit of a review about the exhibition, but I have changed my mind, for a number of reasons.
1) So much of art and the presentation of art is subjective. I don’t need to add my voice to the scores of other London blogs that have something to say about the exhibition. Not to say that I don’t have some opinions about it, I just choose not to share them. The way I see it, you take the art in, process it, form your own opinion, then move on.
2) It is much more important to talk about Street Photography as an art form and a function of society.
The exhibition was so popular that nearly a month into its launch, there were people lined up like mad to see it. So much so that the Museum has to issue timed tickets for the exhibition to manage the massive crowds wanting to see the goods. Also, if you type in the words “london” and “photography” into Twitter, there are many days where ALL the posts are about this exhibition. This would have to be the most popular exhibition of the last few years I reckon.
This alone proves the worth and value of Street Photography.
I can bet my bottom dollar (or pound) that no more than 35-40% of the people attending the exhibition are involved in photography itself. People were there to get a glimpse into the past, real photos taken at different periods of history on the streets of this great Metropolis.
Why? I do believe that we are living in the most recorded time in history. People are recording everything all day long around the world on digital cameras and mobile phones and this fascination with imagery surely contributed in some way to the popularity of this exhibition. Further, images of the past are always romantically fascinating in their own right. Even the shots from the late 1800s where people in the streets were visible dirty and times were not necessarily great were quite engaging as it was a very real view into the past. So I am sure there were loads of historians, families and art lovers gathering their timed tickets as well as photo-geeks like myself.
So to blazes with all the harsh anti-terrorism legislation that targets photographers and long may street photography continue. As proven by photographers like the late Vivian Maier, it is vital to understanding the past – which is of course vital to dealing with our future.