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Published on Oct 6, 2007
The street is the photographer's friend, but also his enemy. So are the street's inhabitants with their varying lots and differing modes of life. They are unpredictable, random, and spontaneous. They are sensitive and surprising, decorous and dangerous. With all of them the photographer has to learn to communicate, to understand their language, and recognize their signals and hints. This is not slang; it is a secret sign- language, a set of codes for behavior in society, the society of the street.
The language of the street consists of signs, symbols, geometrical shapes; its signs are written on notice- boards, on posters, you will find them on sidewalks, on bus stations, street poles, in the cloths people wear, on public waste -containers, on buses. The street speaks through people's facial expressions, through their bodylanguage, in the expressions of their physical and mental states, through expressions of relations among people, and between them and others. You will find the 'words' of the street in shoes, in hair-styles, in cloths and in fashionevery single detail you notice may be significant, meaningful.
Understanding the street's language is not enough. The street-photographer's main occupation is a constant, unceasing, and stubborn search for a connecting line between the various signs of the street, so as to be able to translate these signs, arrange them visually for those who will look at his pictures. It is this constant search that nourishes the never ceasing tension in the street-photographer's work; it is what "fuels" him, spurs him on, what imbues his work with deep meaning. This is the core of his dedication for life as a photographer What the street- photographer seeks in particular are connections between symbols and human beings. He strives to establish a link between some symbol, some icon, well known to all in his culture, and between a person (or persons, sometimes animals) who will combine with the symbol. A successful combination will result in a new angle of view, often surprising and inspiring, stirring thought and feelings, on some known reality. It will thus add value to the picture beyond merely recording reality at a certain fleeting moment. In the search for such a special, inspiring combination the main 'player' is the street-photographer's patience, though imagination, experience, and good understanding of human behavior are also necessary tools in his professional kit. Relations between people consist of diverse and numerous elements and these always maintain a certain tension between them. A successful capture, in a picture, of this tension will always touch the feelings of viewers and feed their imagination. We know that in certain cases where there is an emotional and spiritual understanding between two people they may understand each other without need for words, as if they had a telepathic link. In a similar manner, some photographers, who delved deeply in human behavior, and in the nature of their relationships, will develop a kind of 'telepathic' ability which enables them to anticipate the development of human situations, and 'capture' them at the decisive moment. We have to remember that people's actions are done, most of the time, in (more or less) regular patterns, common to all humans. Some of these are culture- bound; some others are even independent of culture and ethnicity. Body-language is a much discussed and investigated topic the observations of which bear out the above statements. In similar situations we tend to do more or less the same things, and in the same manner. If, for instance, we look at an average person and observe her (or him) in the street for a certain time, we will see that in ordinary circumstances their behavior will be pretty much the same as that of others. However- and this