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Street photography

5 films
The impulses of the city are infinite. I couldn’t possibly hope to frame it. I just simply had to be there.
- Guy Tillim
DK2R Team


Even when nobody is in the frame, the city has a human face. Blurred walkers from Daguerre's too-long pauses, Atget's empty streets where Walter Benjamin unearths a crime scene. There's a running analogy with entertainment, large screen or small.

Since we can shoot on sight, as it were, interest has arisen in areas where once there was none; ordinary people and their ballet on the urban stage.

The street photo era coincides mainly with the 20th century.

And there are as many schools as big cities, in Paris, New York, Tokyo, and Johannesburg.

In France, in the wake of Prévert's, it was the poetry of the little people, worn-out but smiling workers, that humanist photographers captured "in their natural habitat"; Boubat, Weiss, Doisneau... As for the USA, that's another street, another school. Fewer smiles, more "ultra-modern solitude" with Evans, Abbott, Weegee, Frank, Friedlander, Winogrand, Arbus, Klein, Parks, DeCarava, Saul Leiter...

The list is endless. Photographers are in thrall to the hum of the city!

Films on the theme

The Pulse of the Street

"Historian, record-keeper, artist": is how Joel Meyerowitz describes himself when talking about his determination to document the 9/11 attacks. The still-smoking ruins revived the fire that drove him in 1962, the start of his photographic stroll (then in black and white) through the streets of NYC.

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Repaint New York

This film will introduce you to an unknown New York, in vivid colours and abstractions, in the manner of the painter Saul Leiter, a free and nuanced spirit.

Behind the windowpane, through the condensation, beyond the raindrops, he redraws a city and the souls that live in it. He also comes to plunge us into “pleasant confusion” and “tickle our left ear"!

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Get out and about

Before crisscrossing the American territory, Robert Frank trained his lens on the city: Paris, London, New York, characters in their own right. The city as a starting point for every trip, where inspiration is born in the daily struggle against urban adversity.

He evokes those great periods when the city would compose with him, where by moving a few steps he would find a new face each time.

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Johannesburg, from stormy skyscrapers to nocturnal survival

This film will take you to the chaotic heart of Johannesburg. You will enter its large abandoned buildings, through the eyes of Guy Tillim, who has shared the daily lives of all who live there.

You will also cross it at night, and witness the lives of the street vendors that Thandile Zwelibanzi has chosen to observe and document.

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Photography – it takes some doing!

Another way to survey and photograph the city, according to Bernard Plossu, is non-stop walking! With a cheap camera to hand, you're ready for instinctive, unscripted photography.

Captured by the photographer in black and white, snapshots of the Paris of the 1970s and the 1990s inspired by a glance, a thrown ball, a stain on the asphalt, a passer-by.

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Further exploration

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To read

• ALL ABOUT SAUL LEITER - authors: Margit Erb, Pauline Vermare et Motoyuki Shibata ; 2018 ; Rm 

• JO’BURG - artist: Guy Tillim ; 2005 ;  STE Publishers ; South Africa

• STILL EXISTENCES - artist: Thandile Zwelibanzi ; 2010 ; Camera Austria 

• STREET PHOTOGRAPHY NOW - authors: Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLaren ; 2017 Thames & Hudson

• MAGNUM STREETWISE: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHY - author: Stephen McLaren ; 2019 ; Thames & Hudson Ltd

• PARISIANS: PHOTOGRAPHS BY PETER TURNLEY - artist: Peter Turnley ; authors: Edouard Boubat and Adam Gopnik ; 2000 ; Abbeville Press Inc

• SABINE WEISS, LES VILLES, LA RUE, L’AUTRE - artist and author: Sabine Weiss ; author: Karolina Ziebinska-Lewandowska ; 2018 ; Xavier Barral

• BERNARD PLOSSU : EUROPA - author: Carlos Serrano ; 2012 ; La Fabrica ; bilingual edition English/French

• BAYLÓN - artist: Luis Baylón ; authors: Luis Baylon and Quico Rivas ; 1999 ; La Fabrica ; English

• EN VALENCIA - artists: Luis Baylón and Bernard Plossu ; 2009 ; Publicacions de la Universitat de València ; Spanish

• THE AMERICANS - artist: Robert Frank ; introduction: Jack Kerouac ; 1959 ; Grove Press