ISPA2014 Street Photo Awards

Grand Place, BrusselsThis year’s International Street Photo Awards has closed for judging. Associated with this is the Street Photo of the Year competition where the public gets to vote for their favourite photo. There are over 500 photos to peruse and they represent the gamut of what constitutes street photography. Some choose to work in monochrome, other in colour. Some are snapshots, others considered compositions. Some have people in them, others are bare with only the implied presence of humanity. It demonstrates the futility of trying to find a unique definition of street photography bringing to mind the saying, “I can’t define it but I know it when I see it.”

I certainly have my own preferences, but the my overriding consideration is that the photo be of something, rather than a random photo taken in public. The photo should not just be about technique, or a cliche (unless it transcends it). On the latter point, it is instructive to look through the entries and judge for yourself whether a photo is simply a cliche or says more than that. There were attempts to emulate Martin Parr or Bruce Gilden that were not terribly successful. There were many photos of reflection overlaying different scenes into a confusion mess with little to say other than this is a photo of reflections.

I went through all 521 entries and marked them either a Yes or a No. In the end I selected the minimum number of 50 Yes votes and the rest were marked No. In my Yes pile, there were a mix of colour and monochrome, documentary and candid, day and night, silhouette and front-lit, action and still. It’s this variety that keeps the format fresh and interesting.