Who are the best street photographers? They’re the ones with a keen eye, who are always aware of their surroundings. They are patient and relentless in delivering a powerful message through their photographs. Here are Buzz sector’s A-Z list of our favourite Street photographers from the past and present.
Unlike some of the best street photographers who concentrated their efforts on a single area, Alex Webb strove to visit as many places as possible; including those that were far away, in order to capture the most enigmatic and captivating moments in history. His quest for adventure took him to the US-Mexico border, Istanbul, Haiti, and many other states in the United States.
He didn’t want to fully expose the message sent when choosing settings for a new photograph. So he urged viewers to explore the frame together to find the answers. What distinguishes him from some of the other best street photographers of the time is the depth of his photos. He also made a clear distinction between foreground, middle ground, and backdrop so that every observer might see himself as one of the persons shown.
André Kertész was born in Hungary and is most known for his contributions to the development of photography composition and the genre of photo essay. He didn’t attract much attention in the beginning of his career since he shot from unusual angles. He had a style that wasn’t like that of other photographers at the time.
Kertész frequently felt powerless in his professional life. His photojournalism ideas, on the other hand, brought him the acclaim he deserved. This established him as one of the best street photographers.
Regardless of who he was shooting, he always showed genuine care for his models, putting aside political or social biases. Kertész’s work impacted many photographers, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, and Brassa, who looked up to him and learned a lot from his work.
Brassaï was born in Hungary but lived in France for the majority of his life. He is regarded as one of the best street photographers of the interwar period, having caught the lives of ordinary people.
Brassaï created a number of photographs that captured Parisian life in the 1920s. The photographer loved to work at night, roaming around the Montparnasse district and capturing the city’s traditional nightlife scenes.
Brassaï’s works capture the spirit of inequity in French society, highlighting its hidden aspects. Although Brassï is most known for photographing the dark side of urban life, he also photographed high society. He devoted much of his time to photographing ballet, opera, and other forms of dance. Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Alberto Giacometti, and Henri Matisse were among the artists he photographed.
Few of the modern best street photographers are willing to put their lives in jeopardy to document historic events, but Bruce Davidson believes it is his destiny. As a result, he photographed the destitute state of New York City’s East 100th Street, half-destroyed subways, traveled to areas where inhabitants are hostile to visitors, and attempted to attend numerous crucial political meetings. Davidson tries to “life like a monk” by shooting, developing, and printing his own images.
Davidson is adamant about forming a bond with the individual to whom you are directing your lens. Remember to thank your model when the shoot is finished by being friendly and polite.
He normally spends some time in a certain place to become acquainted with the inhabitants, and only when the locals are familiar with him does he take out his camera and begin shooting.
Gilden, as one of the best street photographers working today, has an unique tip for his younger colleagues. He feels that the only right method to take photographs is to “shoot who you are,” and he adheres to this rule by being direct, honest, and aggressive during the shoot.
Because such violent and confronting close-ups made with the help of a camera flash are guaranteed to trigger particular sensations, it is rather easy to spot his works among numerous metropolitan photos. His photographs have a strong sense of intimacy and directness.
He believes that a photograph that is easy to look at without causing discomfort is meaningless. But it’s a shot that depicts honest feelings and is uncompromisingly sincere that adds to the wealth of street photography art.
Gilden didn’t strictly adhere to traditional composition standards, preferring a more individualized approach to photography. He has, however, benefited from this technique and created a number of photographs that elicit an emotional response from the viewer.
David Alan Harvey
David Alan Harvey is a living legend in the field of street photography. Harvey is a member of the famed Magnum Photos agency, and during the lectures, he shares his secrets of successful shooting with the next generation. He lives an active lifestyle and travels to intriguing locales to expand his collection of urban photographs. This is despite the fact that he is nearly 70 years old.
Harvey dislikes taking individual photographs, but is noted for his outstanding photo essays, projects, and series. Instead of technical skills, David tells his peers to be guided by a distinct idea.
Moriyama is a Japanese artist who is well-known outside of his homeland. In 2004, he earned the International Center of Photography’s Infinity Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 2019, he received the Hasselblad Award. He has spent more than 50 years to urban street photography; the major subjects of his photographs being Japanese of various ages and social positions. He took pictures with a small camera to avoid drawing too much notice from passers-by. His photographs have a high level of contrast and a light graininess.
Daid Moriyama advocated deconstructivism and designed the frame in such a way that every aspect emanated the raw energy of urban life; unlike prominent street photography representatives from the West who committed to technical correctness.
He highly advises stepping outside of one’s comfort zone and attempting to picture absolutely unknown subjects. This strategy can be quite beneficial, because most shooters stick to a tried-and-true path, and you can easily outperform them by being open to new difficulties.
Diane Arbus, a New York-based photographer, is best known for her street portrait photography. Arbus fought for the rights of all socioeconomic groups, vividly reflecting all people, with her artistic vision.
She photographed nudists, members of the LGBTQ+ community, retirees, carnival artists, children, parents, married couples, and more. Her models are photographed in their natural environments, such as at home, walking down the street, working in the office, or strolling in the park. Nowadays, she is considered as one of the best street photographers.
Many of her paintings elicit strong feelings of empathy; some viewers find her imagery to be highly provocative, while others find her images odd and unsettling. Arbus’ photography deviates from the typical method of capturing models by keeping a large distance between them and the camera. Her new method produced in photographs that were extremely psychological.
Erwitt has been photographing the streets for nearly 50 years. During these years, he has captured many extraordinary images, some of which are considered to be among the most iconic photographs of the twentieth century.
Erwitt believes that rather than relying solely on planning, a genuine photographer should be guided by his inner flare for capturing the precise moment. As a result, his photographs help you experience the emotion of a specific moment and elicit a true reaction.
Erwitt urges his colleagues to create content-driven photography rather than merely form-driven photography. As a result, he has chosen B&W photography to emphasize feelings, emotions, and the interplay of light and shadow. He has put in a lot of effort to build a wide range of initiatives that have value and will be relevant for future generations.
Despite being acknowledged as one of the greatest street photographers of all time, Eugène Atget never considered himself a shooter. He preferred to refer to himself as a “author-producer.” He led a solitary existence and treasured his privacy.
Atget enjoyed photographing architectural structures and urban locations, which he referred to as “documents.” The photographer also sold his artworks to help other photographers learn from his mistakes. Many of the districts and public places immortalized in Atget’s photographs were demolished to make way for modern structures.
Eugene Atget was fired up as he rode the bus around Paris, his camera and tripod slung over his shoulder, looking for fantastic sites for his picture assignments. His objective was to immortalize the city’s scenery, classic structures, and distinctive atmosphere by photographing every available part of it.
Garry Winogrand was a well-known photographer who worked between the 1950s and the early 1980s. His images depict everyday sights in New York and America in general, and his style reflects the post-World War II era. His images evoke a sense of dread coupled with a sense of power. Slanted horizons and angles are frequently used in Winogrand’s photography in order for these aspects to blend nicely into the entire picture. Using this technique, he was able to make his shots more realistic while removing the effect of the pre-planned session.
When looking at his work, you would conclude that the photographer avoids shooting in a traditional way and instead prefers to capture spontaneous situations and subjects in their natural stances. Winogrand’s definition of a perfect photograph differs from the traditional one in that he considered any imperfect moment as good for photographing.
Helen Levitt is most known for her street photographs taken in New York City. She is considered one of the best street photographers of her time. Unlike many other street photographers, she took a lighthearted attitude to her work. She had a little device called winkelsucher that was compatible with a Leica camera.
Levitt was able to snap images sideways without being noticed using this method. She achieved excellent candid photography results in this manner.
Ordinary people are the major topics of Levitt’s photography. She was particularly interested in some of New York’s poorer neighborhoods, such as the Lower East Side and Spanish Harlem. She viewed these locations as the city’s living rooms, where children played, neighbors gossiped, and people gathered for a few fleeting but memorable moments.
Henri-Cartier Bresson established the genre and immortalized the most memorable scenes. While most of his colleagues utilized a larger format, he was one of the few that used 35mm. Henri was widely known as a master of real-life photography, which was bolstered by the success of his book, The Decisive Moment.
After capturing Gandhi’s burial and the end of the Chinese Civil War, as well as a few other significant events, Henri became known as one of the best street photographers of all time.
Meyerowitz committed a great deal of time and effort to the advancement of street photography art, emphasizing color photography and elevating it to a “high” level. He was undecided at first about whether B&W or color film photography piqued his attention. But he eventually settled on portraying the world in a riot of hues.
He utilized a 35mm camera for his earliest picture assignments, which was eventually replaced by a large-format view camera. This change had a significant impact on his photography skills, bringing greater fluidity and tranquility to the process. He was able to develop a unique way of tracking light and incorporate it into his overall composition.
His most well-known effort is devoted to the September 11th assaults in New York. Joel Meyerowitz depicted the aftermath of horrific damage and how regular people attempted to survive. It is, he believes, his personal method of recording history.
Josef Koudelka has numerous fans and followers all around the world thanks to his dedication to achieving great black and white photographic outcomes.
He was able to mix the compositional side of photography with its creative side to create extremely emotive pictures that wowed audiences. The hope and melancholy of ordinary existence are depicted in Koudelka’s photographs.
Gypsies, The Prague Invasion, Exiles, and Chaos are among of his most well-known works. He worked on each for roughly 15-20 years. Josef believes that the selection process is just as important as the shooting itself. He suggested that the printed images be hung on the wall, looked at for a while, and then decided which ones should be displayed to the public.
Friedlander’s creative view of city streets helped him establish himself as one of the top American street photographers. He didn’t miss a single opportunity to highlight the genuineness of American life as portrayed by its residents, architectural views, and even road signs.
He also enjoyed taking pictures of his reflections in business windows. You can’t help but notice a beautiful blend of lighting and content when looking at his urban photography samples.
Lee Friedlander, who approached photography with a sense of humour, was unafraid of making mistakes throughout the process of shooting, and even managed to turn them into intriguing puns and puzzles. For example, in some of his photographs, a pole appears in the frame, something vital is absent, or the photographer’s shade or reflection is visible.
Friedlander’s willingness to experiment with such complexities resulted in the photographic modernism’s creative energy. In fact, his images stand out because of their deliberate fragmentation and uncertainty of arrangement.
Martin Parr is a well-known London street photographer who enjoyed observing people of various social groups and photographing them together to emphasize the evident differences between them. His most well-known works are noted for their mild criticism of people and their civilizations. His technique is known as wry observation photography, and it is based on the richness of bright colors.
Martin feels that a dash of humour and sarcasm can transform an ordinary photograph into something extremely captivating and attention-getting. He prefers to group his photographs together rather than presenting them as individual works.
He doesn’t try to think out every detail of his scene, instead attempting to portray a true situation in an honest manner. The end result perfectly reflects this goal, allowing viewers to comprehend what’s going on in the frame simply by looking at it.
Doisneau is a notable street photographer who was involved in the humanist street photography movement. He concentrated on people’s emotions, catching some unique moments in Parisian life and attempting to reflect the city’s turmoil at the time.
Robert Doisneau’s image of Paris is unconventional in that he avoids taking photographs of the city in the manner in which it has been shown in advertisements, fashion, newspapers, or movies. He preferred to photograph ordinary people, including adults and children, who he considered as possessing qualities such as tenderness and friendliness.
Doisneau took a unique technique to photography that became a trend. He sought to keep a safe distance from his subject while shooting, eschewing close-up shots in favor of wide-angle shots. Doisneau was able to capture the soul of a person as well as the vibrancy and life of the world around him in this way.
Frank is widely considered to be one of the greatest street photographers of the 1950s. His distinct technique departs from the classic documentary photography style popularized by magazines like ‘LIFE’ and others at the time. He preferred to document the everyday lives of ordinary people in America.
For Frank, it was an experiment that allowed him to hone his abilities and take photography to a new level that went beyond popular perceptions at the time. He had a unique style of accompanying his shots with inscriptions written right on the film or prints.
Looking through Frank’s original documentary images assembled in the photobook The Americans is a great way to get a sense of his unique approach. The documentary genre was thought to be devoid of any emotional content at the time. Its fundamental goal was to present a transparent picture of reality devoid of any personal judgments on the part of the photographers. Robert Frank, on the other hand, was able to achieve his goal. However, because “The Americans” was highly intimate and full of emotions, Robert Frank was able to modify this perception.
Saul Leiter was no exception to the rule that excellent street photographers enjoy experimenting. In both color and black-and-white photography, he was successful. In the 1940s, Leiter began his career as a fashion photographer in New York. Later on, he shifted his focus to the field of street photography, where he was highly successful. Saul Leiter enjoyed photographing ordinary folks on the streets of New York.
Leiter purchased cheap, expired color films with the expectation that the resulting photos would have defects or flaws. As a result, his images include a lot of abstract features that make them stand out. Leiter’s work is unique and has a lovely quality about it.
Parke, who lives and works in Australia, is one of the most inventive street portrait photographers. His photographic style is a mix of lyrical, comedic, emotive, and psychological tendencies, resulting in some truly interesting photographs. This is a creative artist who has experimented with documentary photography, which has greatly inspired his work. They now represent a blurred line between fantasy and reality. Parke is always honing his skills and brilliantly capturing light, resulting in the most mind-blowing compositions. His monochromatic approach is defined by dramatic contrast and dazzling light.
A good photographer, Parke feels, should be on the go all of the time. When you remain still for an extended period of time, you begin to influence the events taking place around you. Your goal is to depict everything as realistically as possible.
From the 1050s through the 1990s, Vivian Maier was a photographer. During that time, she traveled to over 100 countries and took over 100,000 photographs. She worked as a professional nanny and had no recognition as a photographer during her lifetime.
Vivian Maier’s negatives were only made available to the public after a notable historian, John Maloof, purchased them at an auction in Chicago. Maloof began to document her family history by promoting Vivian Maier as a top street photographer.
Her artworks covered a wide range of topics. She enjoyed photographing youngsters, representatives of the working class, and busy streets. Maier didn’t shy away from photographing anything and was fascinated by anything she saw. She is also well-known for her contribution to the field of self-portraiture photography.
Walker Evans is a well-known street photographer who helped to shape American documentary photography. At the Museum of Modern Art, he was the first photographer to have a solo exhibition.
Walker Evans, a well-known street photographer, argued that a skilled shooter didn’t require the greatest camera for street photography or the best lens for street photography to achieve flawless results. He enjoyed experimenting and used a 35mm Leica 810 large-format camera as well as a Polaroid camera.
In the New York subway, Walker Evans shot his most renowned photoshoot in the field of street photography. He photographed subway users while concealing a 35mm camera under his coat, which was painted black.The lens could only be seen via a gap between two buttons, but no one seemed to notice.
Weegee (Arthur Fellig)
Arthur Fellig, often known by the moniker Weegee, was a photographer who specialized in reportage. He was recognized for his magnificent black-and-white street photography in New York.
In the 1930s and 1940s, Weegee worked as a newspaper photographer in New York, where he developed his distinctive photography style by capturing the activities of the city’s rescue services. His paintings depicted city life, the criminal underworld, injury, and even death.
The majority of Weegee’s photographs were taken with ordinary equipment and techniques of the day; but his images continue to astonish viewers today. He did not study photography in any educational institution and instead learned it on his own. He did, however, become one of the best street photographers, serving as an inspiration to photographers such as Diane Arbus, William Klein, and Bruce Gilden.
William Klein began his career as a fashion photographer for Vogue magazine, but he has always had a desire to picture urban landscapes. Eventually, such a goal made him one of the most well-known city photographers. He was intrigued by the idea of breaching the then-accepted street photography standards.
Klein moved away from the sweet depictions of New York and caught the Big Apple in its most genuine form, with vulgarity and aggressiveness assaulting the eye right once. When most Americans saw his images, they were blown away, and a well-known fashion magazine with which he collaborated was deeply disturbed by his view of the city.
To understand and capture people’s tales, William Klein feels that you need to be a remarkable observer and conversationalist in addition to controlling your gear and selecting engaging places. In fact, he advises keeping such a distance from another individual that you can see the colors of his or her eyes completely.
His work has a raw quality to it, with portions that are somewhat blurred and grainy. Other unusual characteristics include high contrast and overexposed negatives.