30 June 2009

ON STREET PHOTOGRAPHY by Paul Treacy

This might be the opening text for my new book, Stroll NYC due to be released soon.
I'm NOT a poet and this is not really a poem. It's simply some rhyming verse cobbled together to speak to the motivations of one street photographer.

I thought the quality of the prose I'd written for the original opening essay was quite good but it was the same content as just about every other book on street photography I'd read previously. So I tore it up.

On Street Photography.

Been shooting the street since '92.
Street photography's what I do.
Up to now it's all been stills.
Most recently motion capture fills,
My need to record what people do,
Out in the street and elsewhere too.
In future I plan to mesh the two.

When I walk fast, I slow the world down,
So I can see pictures all about town,
Before they happen, or so it seems,
By just walking fast and by no other means.
If I slow down my brain gets muzzy.
I won't see any pictures, just a world all fuzzy.
Speed up to slow down? It seems kind of odd,
But that's just what happens, when I'm on the plod.

Where will the next street shot come from?
Will it be quick or will it take long?
Will it be funny, will it be zany?
Will it be colour, will it be grainy?
Will it be still or will it have motion?
Make people smile or cause a commotion?

Most people are friendly but some are not.
In any event I'll get off a shot,
Whether permission is granted or whether it's not,
My obligation's to make an interesting shot.
Or should I say photo cause terms are so crucial.
Let's change the language to something more useful.
Instead of saying take, we ought to say make,
As it's gentler and friendly instead of aggressive,
And maybe the subject will be more receptive.

Permission is hard, forgiveness is easy,
So long as you smile and don't act too chessy.
Just try to be charming, it's much more disarming.

Street photography does have a role.
It speaks of our time, of society's soul,
Of technology, of fashion, of societal norms,
How it conflicts, how it conforms,
To notions of decency, taste and behaviour,
Of things that disgust, of moments to savor.

In a hundred years time these photos will say,
How life was lived way back in the day.
They'll show how we dressed,
The things that we used,
I'm sure people looking will be most amused.
At how we lived and the things that we did,
Photography's purpose is to lift off the lid.

So pick up a camera and take to the street.
Pick up the rhythm, the varying beat.
Video or stills, I don't really care.
Just get up and go and do as you dare.

© Paul Treacy 2009. All rights reserved.

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