Street Photographer Captures the Solitude of Urban Life Through Light and Shadow

Black and White Photo of a Woman Pushing a Stroller by Alan Schaller

Renowned street photographer Alan Schaller continues to travel the world, snapping his masterful black and white imagery that captures the spirit of the urban environment. The Leica Ambassador and co-founder of Street Photography International has seen his work exhibited in several Leica galleries over the course of 2019. These opportunities have brought his work to wider audiences, who revel in his view of city streets.

In the tradition of historic street photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Schaller uses Leica M cameras for his work. These allow him to remain discrete while also achieving high quality, artistic work. His photographs investigate the small, fleeting moments that build urban narratives. Since interviewing Schaller in late 2017, his portfolio has continued to expand and is filled with deeply meaningful imagery.

Particularly striking is his continued development with the use of light and shadow. Schaller expertly employs these contrasts to create compositional lines. He visually guides the viewer through the frame. His use of light and shadow also comes into play when looking at negative space. Schaller is unafraid to let his compositions breath, resisting the urge to fill the frame with the main subject. He often prefers a subtle approach where humans are almost swallowed by their surroundings.

This minimalist approach speaks to the isolation that often occurs in modern cities, where citizens are surrounded by other people yet lost in their own worlds. By primarily framing his subjects as singular figures, the London-based photographer forces us to think about our individual place in the world.

Alan Schaller is known for his incredible black and white street photography.

Shadow Photography by Alan Schaller Urban Photography by Alan Schaller Urban Photography by Alan Schaller Black and White Street Photography by Alan Schaller

The Leica Ambassador expertly plays with light and shadow for dramatic effect.

Alan Schaller Street Photography Shadow Photography by Alan Schaller Black and White Street Photography by Alan Schaller Alan Schaller Street Photography

His work often deals with themes of isolation and loneliness in the urban environment.

Elderly Man on the Subway by Alan Schaller Children in the Rain Under an Umbrella by Alan Schaller Walking in the Rain with an Umbrella by Alan Schaller Black and White Photo of Person Under an Umbrella Walking in the Rain with an Umbrella by Alan Schaller

Alan Schaller: Website | Instagram 

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Alan Schaller.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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