Working to capture mirror images of society, street photography is a reflection of the urban landscape. Street photographers create time capsules of our world, documenting the big and small moments of life. And while we often reflect back on the top photographers of vintage eras, what about street photography today?
Who are the photographers picking up the baton from greats like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paul Martin, and Walker Evans? Today, the best street photographers often work with commercial clients or as photojournalists by day, using their own time to pursue a passion of documenting the streets.
By jumping in fearlessly, getting involved in the community, and waiting for that decisive moment, they are active in photographing the urban landscape. Certainly, years from now, we'll be looking to them for a history lesson on what the 21st century looked like.
Take a look at our list of contemporary street photographers who are shaping the way we view the modern world.
Eric Kim is one of the most influential street photographers today, not only due to his candid photographs, but his willingness to interact with fans. His blog is an informative resource for any street photographer, with musings on how to make your work go viral and how to find personal meaning in your photography. His popular YouTube channel not only gives street photography tutorials, but takes you behind the scenes while he's out shooting.
With his landmark series Lost Angels, UK photographer Lee Jeffries captured stunning portraits of the homeless. Not a street photographer in the sense of shooting candid moments, Jeffries engages with the community, seeking out and creating connections with his models that translate into soul-bearing portraits.
Vladimir Milivojevich, better known as Boogie, is a Serbian street photographer who gained recognition through his work on the streets of New York. Shooting classically in black and white, Boogie's work is an unflinching look at society. He's known for shining a light on situations we'd rather overlook, whether it's people doing drugs or children left neglected in the street. His photographs serve as a reminder that we cannot pretend the rougher sides of life do not exist.
Based in Lisbon, Rui Palha shoots his images in the style of classic street photographers. Sneaking stolen moments off the streets of Portugal, he paints a portrait of the capital city. He actively shares his work on Facebook, via his Street Photography, page. “Photography is a very important part of my space… it is to discover, it is to capture giving flow to what the heart feels and sees in a certain moment, it is being in the street, experiencing, understanding, learning and, essentially, practicing the freedom of being, of living, of thinking….”
Shinya Arimoto is a professor of photography at the Tokyo School of Visual Arts. In his spare time, he shoots offbeat characters on the streets of Tokyo. He spends hours out in the city, feeling that it's fundamental to make contact with as many people as possible in order to obtain the best work. “I photograph people struggling against but again also benefiting from their environment here in Tokyo. I think that among the two, I’m interested in finding common denominators as human beings.”
Donato di Camillo
Donato di Camillo‘s entry into photography was unusual—he took up the craft while serving a prison sentence. Upon his release in 2012, he was introduced to the work of modern masters Bruce Gilden and William Klein, which pushed him toward street photography. Considering himself an outsider, his work often captures people on the fringes of society. “I love the amazing differences in people and how beautifully unique we all are. Good bad or indifferent; People never cease to amaze me, they often answer many of my own questions. The littlest detail, maybe in the eyes or the way someone walks can be the difference of making a photograph.”
Russian photographer and designer Constantin Mashinskiy spent a year investigating the difference faces of Paris in his series 365 Parisians. By continuing his work even after the year was finished, he's amassed an impressive archive that weaves a tale of the people who make a city. From elegantly dressed women to overworked line cooks, Mashinskiy expertly crafted portraits both feed into and defy our expectations of the cosmopolitan city.
Phil Penman‘s offbeat, black and white photographs document intriguing aspects of everday life in New York City. Originally from the UK, Penman now calls New York his home and when he's not photographing celebrities for People and USA Today, he's out on the streets, camera in hand. “Every morning, I head out the door armed with my Leica M and bike, and all I ever hope for is to come home with just one image I’m proud of. I’m drawn to those individuals who are not trying to be cool or would even think they are, but just have great character and style.”
Based in Atlanta, photographer Zack Arias is a force in contemporary street photography. Also a commercial photographer, he's known for his work with music stars and commercial giants like Coca-Cola. He brings the bold, dynamic style of these ventures into his street work and via his role as Fujifilm's official representative photographer, his influence encourages others to bring their cameras into the streets.
Angelo Ferrillo left behind studies in engineering to pick up a camera, and has not looked back since. Working as a photojournalist, he is also part of the Italian Street Photography Association and is a Hasselblad ambassador. Whether capturing candid moments in his native Italy or shooting a series about Bataclan one year after the terrorist attack, Ferrillo's is the work of an adept storyteller.