Честно говоря, сам я в рейтинги не верю, уж простите. Искусство, в том числе искусство фотографии, не есть спорт, и рейтинг свидетельствует лишь о степени раскрученности того или иного персонажа, а как он этого добился, своим ли трудом, или чужими усилиями - тайна сия велика есть. По моему скромному убеждению фотографы должны быть разными, тем они и ценны, своим разнообразием, разным подходом к делу, разной манерой и т.д., а однообразие хорошо в армии и на флоте, да и то не всегда. Но тем не менее рейтинги эти существуют, и фотографы, входящие в них, видимо, неплохо справляются со своим делом, так что нелишне будет познакомиться с ними и нам, людям не обремененным особенными талантами, и оттого беспечным и безответсвеным.
The proliferation of Instagram-ready smartphones has been both a boon and a detriment to the art of street photography. On one hand, it has brought about a renewed interest in the innovators and pioneers of the genre—people like Eugène Atget, who is widely considered the godfather of the genre, or Henri Cartier-Bresson, who had a knack for catching people at the exact moment they did something interesting. On the other hand, it has convinced many wannabe shooters that anyone with a working cell phone and a decent filtering app has the ability to capture something beautiful. And maybe they’re right. But it doesn’t change the fact that there’s an art to this art, and that some folks are just more in tune with the rhythm of street photography than others.
Compiling any sort of “list” is always a challenging task, as the nature of being constrained by a number will inevitably mean that plenty of deserving talents will be left off (at least for this year). And when it comes to the 50 photographers featured here, we aimed to be as all-encompassing as possible; no restrictions were set in terms of geography, age, style, or experience. The only adamant criterion is that the artist is currently contributing to the craft.
In some cases, the photographers profiled here have decades of portfolio work under their belts. For others, street photography is a relatively newfound endeavor. Some artists are intent on introducing little seen parts of the world in their work, while others are putting fresh spins on cities we’ve all seen photographed a million times before. Whereas some of the artists gravitate toward the dark side, others are inspired by glimpses of glee. But in each case, the shooters in question are regularly producing consistently engaging work—be the focus on people, places or things—that tell a story going well beyond the moment captured on film. These are The 50 Greatest Street Photographers Right Now.
In today’s Twitter-fast universe, patience isn’t a virtue that many twenty-somethings make time for. However, 24-year-old Laurisa Galvan has spent the past two years immersing herself in the culture of South Dallas, a downtrodden section of the city, in order to create as faithful a representation of its residents as possible. Her resulting portfolio is striking in its authenticity and depth of character; for Galvan, the project has been about "pushing my own limits, and pushing at other peoples' limits. Others allowed me to push at their limits by allowing me to be a part of their lives. I pushed at my own limits by putting myself in dangerous situations. This is a project that captures visual images depicting the results of a neighborhood being socially marginalized.”
Image via Dimitris Makrygiannakis on Flickr / All rights reserved by ngravity
The art world has Flickr to thank for the work of Dimitris Makrygiannakis, who goes by ngravity on the photo-sharing site. In a May interview with fellow street photographer Eric Kim, Makrygiannakis, who was born in Crete but has been living in Stockholm for almost a decade, explained that it was an image by Lukas Vasilikos on the site that turned his interest in photography from casual to ardent.
While his full-time job as a medical doctor doesn’t allow Makrygiannakis as much free time as he’d like to be completely devoted to the craft, he knows that no amount of planning can guarantee all of the elements one needs to create a striking image. “When I ‘hunt’ for photos on the street, I try not restrict myself,” he told Kim. “I love the feeling of my eyes wandering without a specific aim. However once in a while in those few moments in life, people and things will come together magically for a moment. If I record that, it [is] enough for me.”
Image via Chris Arnade on Flickr / All rights reserved by Chris Arnade
Candid images shot with a Nikon D700 are only half of the story for former Wall Street trader Chris Arnade. The Brooklyn-based photographer, who has a deep interest in documenting the many faces of addiction, posts an accompanying essay with almost all of his human subject photos, all of them printed word for word. “I post people’s stories as they tell them to me,” Arnade says on his Facebook page. “I am not a journalist, I don't try to verify; I just listen.” For the viewer, it’s a chance to engage more than just one’s visual sense.
Though he has made an impressive career for himself as a professional photographer, with two decades’ worth of experience shooting for such esteemed publications as The Herald, Sunday Herald, Evening Times, and The Guardian, Colin Templeton admits that his true passion "is documenting everyday life, especially the urban environment. I am less inclined to shoot the classic images which abound on picture postcards; the darker corners of the city are what I find most compelling.” Whether he’s shooting people, animals, cityscapes, or architecture, Templeton works to showcase the subject in its natural environment, resulting in images that are full of intriguing details.
“Although I was born and raised in Rotterdam, a traditional working-class harbor town, I ended up alienated in my hometown,” Otto Snoek notes on his In-Public profile. “Floods of new, immigrant faces arrived, creating big changes in a town that was already in a process of endless reconstruction.” It’s from this contradictory perspective of a man who is both at home and on the outside that inspires Snoek’s work, much of it candid portraiture of the many faces of Rotterdam.
UK-based photographer Matt Johnson lets his work speak for itself. When he does try to explain it, though, he's a man of few words, preferring to use the white space in his 500px profile to simply explain his process: "People and situation, feeling not thinking." His handle on the site is "Crossing Paths," which seems appropriate, as there's a palpable anonymity to his work that helps to make it feel spontaneous and familiar.
Image via Thom Davies on Flickr / All rights reserved by davies.thom
Location: Birmingham, England
Call him a scholar with a camera. Thom Davies is a doctoral researcher studying the continued social and economic impact of the Chernobyl disaster nearly 30 years after it happened. To do this, he mixes traditional qualitative methods, such as one-on-one interviews, with photography to better illustrate the findings of his investigation. They don’t say “a picture is worth 1,000 words” for nothing.
Shawn Nee has become a bit of a folk hero in the street photography world. In the past few years, he has been detained by the police more than once simply because he was doing what every street photographer does: taking pictures! In 2011, he was one of three photographers filing suit against the LAPD (with the assistance of the ACLU) after he was harassed and detained for taking pictures of the turnstiles on the Los Angeles Metro. But in true maverick style, Lee has not let his tussles with law enforcement affect his output. His candid portraits of LA's residents and tourists (and yes, even a few cops) are a perfect representation of the city at its most energetic.
42. Johanna Neurath
Image via Johanna Neurath on Flickr / All rights reserved by johanna
When she's not busy working as the design director at art book publisher Thames & Hudson (which published the famed Street Photography Now book), Johanna Neurath is indulging in her own photographic passions. Working in color, Neurath is more interested in things than people (though she shoots portraits, too) and uses space and color to turn even the simplest everyday items into worthy works of art.
After many years of traveling the U.S. and Europe as a photojournalist, Narelle Autio returned to her native Australia in 1998 and realized that “home” had become a rather foreign concept. “Arriving back in Australia proved to be an awakening for me,” she says in her In-Public profile. “It is true what they say: you don’t miss what you have until you lose it. I realized there was so much here to photograph. Things I had grown up with, that I knew about and loved: all things that I had taken for granted. The only inspiration I needed was this country and the ability to see it with new eyes.”
Since her return, Autio, whose work gives the very real sense of a world in motion, has seen her work published and exhibited throughout the world. She has twice been named one of “Australia’s 50 Most Collectable Artists” by Australian Art Collector Magazine.
“I relish people or objects that get in the way of the otherwise ‘perfect’ shot,” says Lara Wechsler. If it’s intrusive diversions she wants, she couldn’t have picked a better geographical muse. For more than 20 years, Wechsler has stood as a silent observer on the streets of New York City—always with her camera ready and always paying attention to the people and activities that are happening all around her. Clearly she has a knack for knowing the exact second to click her wide-angle camera lens, which aids her in her endeavor to capture the everyday moments of the Big Apple (the kind you’d never see on a postcard).
Hector Isaac isn't afraid to include himself—or at least the shadow of the man with the camera—in his shots. It seems appropriate for a snapper based in Miami, a city that doesn’t regularly abide wallflowers. Though the 24-year-old FIU student is a relative newcomer to the game (he bought his first camera in March 2012), Isaac has definitely made a definite impact with his work. In less than two years, the talented newcomer has picked up awards and accolades from both Photo District News and the Miami Street Photography Festival. His style is difficult to define other than to call it eclectic, which is a direct result of his location and a key factor in his quick ascent.
With a background in art and photojournalism, Melanie Einzig knows that one only needs to capture a single moment in time to tell a much bigger story. To some, her work might seem to focus on the absurdities of New York; however, those who are familiar with Einzig's terrain know that these juxtapositions are not a source of humor so much as they are photographic reasoning for why nothing seems to surprise a New Yorker.
Image via Kostantine Karaiskos on Flickr / All rights reserved by KKaraiskos (Quassar_x)
Better known by his Flickr handle Quassar_x, Kostantine Karaiskos doesn't share much about himself as a person. Perhaps it's because he wants to let his photographs do the talking for him. They offer the viewer a visceral documentation of the world from Karaiskos' eyes, taken from a variety of places and vantage points, both in black and white and color.
Image via Ola Anotherswede on Flickr / All rights reserved by aboutsweden ON A BREAK
Though he's been interested in photography since his teen years, it wasn't until late 2012 that Ola Billmont (a.k.a. Ola Anotherswede) found his niche as a street photographer. He estimates that about 80 percent of his portraits are flash-in-the-face. "I’ve learned that you can flash someone and just keep walking, and 99 times out of 100 that’s it," Billmont said in a recent interview with Eric Kim. "Sometimes people interact with either a curiosity or anger. My usual comment is to give them a positive compliment; even though it’s not always the case, it works well."
Image via Lesley Ann Ercolano on Flickr / All rights reserved by E.Yelsel
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Living in Edinburgh creates a unique challenge for a street photographer, as Lesley Ann Ercolano has discovered. "People here in Edinburgh are often very reserved/private, and I respect that," she said in a recent interview. This explains why pets and the backs of people's heads are such a fascination for the artist. Ercolano makes it work to her advantage, waiting for just the right moment to snap a photo and framing the world in a uniquely participatory way.
Showing the world as a place that appears to be in frequent conflict between stillness and movement, Yvon Buchmann's enviable portfolio channels the humanism of post-war photography masters as Willy Ronis, Robert Doisneau, and Henri Cartier-Bresson. Though he’s been known to shoot in color, Buchmann’s preference is clearly for the power of black and white photography, for which he uses natural light to turn any scenario or landmark into a vast canvas.
A documentary photographer with more than a decade of experience, Jamaica-born Radcliffe "Ruddy" Roye views photography as a means to give a voice to underserved populations. Using both black and white and color photography, Roye's raw style is a perfect complement to his stated desire to "tell the stories of the victories and ills [of grassroots people] by bringing their voices to matte fibre paper."
Image via Jack Simon on Flickr / All rights reserved by Jack Simon
Location: San Francisco
One can’t blame Jack Simon for being a bit analytical in his work. After all, the self-taught photographer who rarely leaves home without his camera has spent the last four decades working as a psychiatrist. “When I look back at the pictures I’ve taken, I notice certain echoes in theme and style that transcend the documentary specifics of the images,” Simon says of his work, which tends toward candid photos shot in public places. “These pictures are like missing pages from the same story, blown across time to different corners of the world. Without telling the full story, I’ve tried to put some of these images back together in portfolios.”
Jesse Marlow is yet another artist who doesn't let his professional gigs (he's shot for a number of top magazines and his work resides in the archives of the Victorian State Library) get in the way of his more personal creative interests. "Street photography is my main passion," he says. "The solitary experience of walking the streets seeking out ‘that’ moment—a rare emotion, a chance sight. And yet, it is often the most everyday things that I keep coming back to, such as people meeting on a summer’s day; a kiss; journeys made on the train."
Frederic Lezmi’s introduction to the world of street photography did not happen on a whim. For most of the 2000s, the Geneva-raised artist was busy learning the craft of documentary photography, first as an assistant to photographer Wolfgang Zurborn, then as a student at Folkwang University of the Arts. His tendency to travel is well-documented in his work, as is his interest in the world in motion. His thesis series, “Beyond Borders: From Vienna to Beirut,” earned him a BFF Promotion Award in 2009.
Image via dirtyharrry on Flickr / All rights reserved by dirtyharrry
Location: Rethymnon, Greece
Though he still remains somewhat under the radar, Charalampos Kydonakis, better known as Dirty Harrry, has been composing some of the street photography world’s most consistently engaging output for several years now, with a portfolio that favors mystery and the occasional dose of creepiness, but presents it all in a dramatically beautiful way. The contradictions are clear to Kydonakis even as he’s shooting. “The more I shoot, the more I realize what I want from photography, and at the same time, the more I get confused about what I want,” he says of his process.
Image via Mark Alor Powell on Flickr / All rights reserved by locaburg
Location: Mexico City
Though he is now based in Mexico City, Illinois-born Mark Alor Powell is well known for the images he has shot stateside, including a vibrant, full-color series on life in Detroit (where he grew up). In an interview with La Pura Vida magazine, Powell described himself as “a provocative intruder." He added, "I rarely make appointments and most of my work is made from my own experiences out in the world, sometimes confrontational and involving and sometimes not. I like to get access into places or unique situations and usually because of my direct involvement in these scenes, a new plane of action is created in front of me and I am hopefully able to react to make something from it.”
Christos Kapatos’ connection to Piraeus, Greece—where he was born, still lives, and photographs—is evident in his work, which typically showcases the sort of anonymous faces you’d see on the street of any city. He lights and frames them in new and intriguing ways, proving that there’s always something new to discover in the details of a place and its people, even if you’ve lived there your entire life.
Benoit Rousseau’s Twitter bio says it all: Happy to shoot strangers. There’s a gleefulness to the strangers he captures—at least those who are looking at the camera—that makes it seem as if his subjects are having just as much fun. Whereas many street photographers use their anonymity behind the camera to observe the world’s underserved populations, Rousseau’s candid snaps serve as a reminder for all of the small joys in life.
“Martin Parr is a chronicler of our age,” according to his bio. “In the face of the constantly growing flood of images released by the media, his photographs offer us the opportunity to see the world from his unique perspective.” Deeming the types of images you’d typically see published in the media as “propaganda,” Parr aims to counter this manipulative photographic tendency with three key weapons: criticism, seduction, and humor. Clearly he has a successful formula, as he’s been at the forefront of the genre for several decades now.
Polish-born photographer Maciej Dakowicz is based in Mumbai but is a man of the world, having also lived in Hong Kong and Wales and traveled extensively with his trusty camera by his side. There’s a sense of giddiness to his work—which has been exhibited around the world and included among other top street photographers in the book Street Photography Now—that transports the viewer to the time and place of its taking.
On his 27th birthday—back on February 23, 2005—Fábio Costa made a decision: he would shoot at least one photo a day, every day, for the rest of his life. So far, the Paris-based photographer has made good on that promise (which is impressive, as we roll up on the ninth anniversary of that commitment). With a dedicated interest in candid street photography and graphics, Costa’s portfolio is impressive not just in its prolificacy, but also because it stands as a personal diary for the life of an individual.
“Photography is a very important part of my space,” says Lisbon-based shooter Rui Palha. "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, trying, knowing, learning, and, essentially, practicing the freedom of being, of living, of thinking.” In other words, it’s tantamount to breathing, which would explain why stolen moments from the lives of everyday people are what seem to inspire Palha most.
If there seems to be a certain formalism to the work of up-and-coming street photographer Umberto Verdoliva, it can be explained by the fact that he holds a degree in regional planning and urban design and spends his days working for an international construction company. It's hard for Verdoliva to let go of the need for perfect geometry when it comes to his photos, which is part of what makes his work so interesting. The symmetry is understated, but it’s there, and it gives a unique sense of order to the unpredictability of the images he captures.
There are some photographers who have a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Simon Becker is the type of artist who plans to be in the right place at the right time. While there are plenty of spur-of-the-moment shots in his portfolio, Becker’s most impressive work seems to happen when he places himself squarely in the face of a particular moment in time, as he did during the Turkish protests that broke out in May of 2013 in Taksim Square. While there were plenty of global media outlets on the scene, Becker’s personal investment in the outcome is evident in his focus on the individual protesters and the entire event's aftermath.
There’s a maturity to the work of Severin Koller that belies the 27-year-old photographer’s youth. A graduate of Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts, Koller is rarely without a camera (he has shot all over the world) and is clear this his creativity knows no bounds. His goal? “As an artist, I never want to be understood,” he says.
There are few street photographers whose images are as iconic as Alex Webb’s. Getting his start while still in high school, Webb began working as a photojournalist in 1974 and became an associate member of Magnum Photos two years later. In the early days of his career, including a mid-1970s series documenting the American south, he focused mainly on black and white imaging.
However, as his interests spread to the Caribbean and Mexico, so did his appetite for color photography. In the decades since, Webb has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, his work has been exhibited around the world, and he has helped to define the face of America in both the 20th and 21st centuries.
Originally from Bourdeaux, Elaine Vallet's appreciation for the visual side of life is part of her genetic disposition. Now based in Paris, her work—in which the City of Light is featured prominently—puts an elegant spin on the images and landmarks that make the city so famous (such as the Eiffel Tower). When seen through Vallet's lens, the focus is not quite where you expect it to be, creating an extraordinary new view on one of the world's most photographed cities.
16. Shane Gray
Image via ShaneGrayPhotography.com
Location: New York
London-born photographer Shane Gray may prefer to shoot in the streets of New York, but that's only because he sees them as a microcosm for the world, describing the city as “an intoxicating discovery of the conventional and eccentric alike.” Whipping his camera out at every possible location—from the subway station to an anonymous street corner—Gray’s tendency to shoot wide angles in full color only adds to the authenticity of his images, making it so that you can almost hear the beautiful cacophony of sound that surrounds each picture.
It takes a brave individual to embark on a full-time career as an artist. Particularly when the artist in question—in this case Ming Thein—is actually a physicist. And a physicist who graduated from Oxford at the age of 16, no less. In 2012, Thein decided to take a leap of faith and abandon a career in the corporate world to indulge his creative passion and states that, so far, he’s “been lucky enough not to regret it.” Thein employs the same exacting eye that led him to a career in science to his street photography, creating flawlessly composed and balanced portraits of people and objects that might not otherwise get a second look.
Constantine Manos realized at a very young age—13, to be exact—that photography was in his future. Within just a few years, the teenager was booking professional gigs, like landing the coveted role of official photographer of the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood at the tender age of 19. For the past six decades, he’s been at the forefront of the documentary photography genre, with his work hanging among the permanent collections at MoMA, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Daring to venture where few other photographers would go, Manos’ sometimes shocking, often heartbreaking, and always striking images have become a part of America’s history.
13. 13th Witness
Image via 13thWitness.com
Location: New York
Street art runs in the family for photographer Tim McGurr, better known as 13th Witness. As the son of legendary street artist Futura, McGurr has understood from an early age that there's no better canvas for a forward-thinking artist than the streets that surround him. The rise of Instagram that helped 13th Witness find a wider audience, where he has amassed more than 280,000 followers.
Pioneering street photographer Jeff Mermelstein exists with one foot firmly planted in the more traditional world of professional photography, where he has shot for the likes of adidas, Topshop, Red Stripe, and The New Yorker. He’s never lost the lust for creating more personal work, letting his camera stand still and observing the world zoom by around him.
The rhythm of the street is second-nature to Bruce Gilden, who grew up in Brooklyn, so it’s no surprise that he has gravitated toward the streets in his photographic work, as well. A member of the famed cooperative Magnum Photos since 1998, Gilden is one of the best known photographers on this list, having seen his work exhibited at some of the world’s top art institutions. Even if he just recently celebrated his 67th birthday, Gilden shows no signs of slowing down. On his website, he notes that, “I'm known for taking pictures very close, and the older I get, the closer I get.” Whatever he’s doing, it seems to be working. In 2013, he was named a Guggenheim fellow.
10. Anna Delany
Image via AnnaDelany.com
Location: New Zealand and New York
As she divides her time between two continents, Anna Delany's camera is her constant companion, helping her to capture what she describes as "fleeting moments in time and the gradual dilapidation of urban decay." With her black and white images, she creates a unique intimacy with the people, pets, and places that inhabit the darker corners of the world's urban areas.
Image via 9shots on Facebook
It would be easy to classify the faces of the people who occupy the bulk of 9shots’ work as emotionally exhausted. And that’s the entire point. He’s not attempting to make a connection with a stranger in order to create a pretty picture. He’s doing his best to capture his subjects at the very second they've realized that they’re being observed—in all their nonplussed, annoyed, or totally oblivious glory. His tendency toward a slightly filtered black and white further distinguishes the subject from the viewer, giving each piece a voyeuristic feel.
An eye for composition runs in the family for Estevan Oriol, son of well-known photographer Eriberto Oriol. In fact, it was with one of his father’s old cameras that the younger Oriol began taking pictures, documenting his travels as a tour manager for Cypress Hill and House of Pain. Though he has gone on to shoot a ton of celebrities over the past 20 years (Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin, among them), Oriol has maintained his connection to the streets of Los Angeles, bringing it to life in a uniquely glamorous-meets-gritty style.
There’s a science to Jesse Wright’s artwork—literally. The self-described “lapsed scientist” took a turn to the creative side after earning a B.A. in Biology and a PhD in Bacterial Genetics, when he opted to translate the concept of variables to a career behind the camera. His portfolio is wide-ranging in both its composition and content; the one constant is what his bio describes as “the interplay between the conceptual and the mundane with a focus on the subtle interactions of people with their environment.”
When he isn't shooting for clients like Nike, Vice, and Rolling Stone, Sha Ribeiro uses his camera to explore what he categorizes as "State of Mind." From people to places to rodents attempting to eat an entire discarded cake, any subject that is within its natural environment can pique the artistic interest of Ribeiro.
Filter your cell phone snaps all you want—they’ll never look anything like the work that trashhand creates as he explores the Windy City with nothing more than an iPhone and an eye for a great angle. As one of Instagram’s earliest adopters, the self-taught photographer has amassed more than 260,000 followers (and counting). We did a portfolio review with him recently, in case these three photos aren't enough.
“Simple, bold, classic, and true” is how professional photographer—and father of four—Zack Arias describes his photography style. And even just a quick glance at a sampling of his work will prove that to be true. By paying equally detailed attention to both person and place, Arias’ images offer visual cues that allow a viewer to easily fill in his subjects' back stories.
Rebellion is the theme at the heart of Boogie's portfolio. Born in Belgrade, Serbia, it was the civil war within his own country that first inspired him to pick up a camera in the 1990s. But even since relocating to New York City in 1998, Boogie has continued to be fascinated by those who contribute to the unrest of a country, with entire portfolios dedicated to gangs, guns, and drugs—all of it in black and white,= and created in a shockingly personal and close-up manner.
Considering that JR uses the streets as his creative inspiration, then exhibits his images on the very same structures he’s out there capturing, “street gallerist” might be a better descriptor for what he does. And he’s not afraid to stir up a little controversy. In 2007, he co-created "Face 2 Face," an illegal exhibition where he posted enormous portraits of Israeli and Palestinian citizens face to face in eight cities and along both sides of the countries’ separation wall. In 2011, he was honored with the TED Prize, which allowed him to create the international participatory art project, "Inside Out." For his part, JR describes his work as “pervasive art,” explaining that, “In that art scene, there is no stage to separate the actors from the spectators.”
Humans of New York might be best described as a photographic experiment in social media. Founded in 2010 by then-26-year-old Brandon Stanton, the idea for the blog—or what Stanton calls a “photographic census of New York City”—was to tell the story of New York City’s residents with a collection of 10,000 photos, all of them plotted out on a map of the city. “Somewhere along the way, HONY began to take on a much different character,” says Stanton. “I started collecting quotes and short stories from the people I met, and began including these snippets alongside the photographs. Taken together, these portraits and captions became the subject of a vibrant blog, which over the past two years has gained a large daily following.”
“Large” might be an understatement; HONY’s Twitter feed has more than 45,000 followers and its Facebook page has been liked by more than 50 times as many people. Stanton’s followers come from all over the world to match faces to the essays he includes with many of the photos, some of them confessional (“I don't know why I'm not able to throw myself 100% into things”), others political (“Overthrow the government”), and some just plain fun (“I better not show up with boobs on Facebook”).