Welcome to the UrbanPhotoFest Open photography competition. This year’s theme is (re:)Thinking the Street, following on from the series of festival events held in London during October 2015.
We had a lively conversation about the nature of street-based visual practices, including an extended twitter-storm about what ‘counts’ as ‘proper street photography’.
At UrbanPhotoFest, we believe that such definitions can lock down and often restrict photographers’ day-to-day practices, and that contemporary street photography reflects a constellation of visual practices focusing on a range of approaches; including street-life, material culture and objects, portraiture, and street-based urban landscapes.
Contemporary photographers and artists are questioning the fixed and often rigid assumptions and categories promoted by a vocal and insistent group of photographers who more often than not, fall back on notions of ‘tradition’ and what has been passed down through a set of taken-for-granted visual practices.
But when we look closer at the history of street photography and the wider practices of urban photography, we can discern a much closer relationship between landscape, materiality and people-based images. This is because ‘the street’ is the starting point for practice, rather than practice being the starting point for thinking about the street.
So we know that street photographic practices can be diverse, engaging, thought-provoking, geographically resonant, and speak to wider concerns about the nature of the modern city. They can also reflect our experiences of non-urban and rural environments where streets make connections between villages and proto-urban spaces between.
Streets are spaces of flow, flux and memory, that invite engagement and participation; and we think that a forward-looking street photography is now going through a process of rethinking itself. Street photography is moving on, and you are invited to be part of that process.