World Atlas of Street Photography – a book review


We were going on holidays (which did not eventuate due to work commitments) and Frances had borrowed some books from the Stirling library to read in the caravan.

“Hey James, have you seen this book on Street Photography?  I’m really enjoying this.”

“Did you know that a lot of the shots are – not candid – a lot are posed?”

“That can’t be right, it wouldn’t be street photography”

Sure enough there was a two page spread of Gillian Wearing taking shots in London – of strangers holding signs declaiming what they think.  There was a policeman holding a sign saying – “Help”, a smart business man in an immaculate suit with a sign  – “I’m desperate”.9780500544365_in02_the-world-atlas-of-street-photograph_

I turned a few pages.  Nikki S Lee in New York dresses and posses with identifiable groups on the streets, lesbians, tourists, black youth.  She even changes the colour of her skin in order to fit in.  Just like the Woody Allen film “Zelig” This is  performance art, like Cindy Shermann, but acted out with strangers.

This book is about a new generation of street photographers.  No Garry Winigrand or Robert Frank here.  It was published in 2008.

Flipping through the pages, the book is divided into regions, like Latin America, and then cities, like Lima and then photographers like Edi Hirose.

Frances draws my atention to what look like aerial photographs of Rio de Janeiro juxtaposed with figures overlooking the grand vista.  These works are actually  collages of the flavelas  by Claudia Jaguaribe.  In Johanasberg, Pieter Hugo depicts a man in modified traditional dress with a massive dog.  Naoya Hatakeyama shows Tokyo through rain speckled windows.  In Deli,  Maciej Dakowicz shows a young man in a singlet carrying a massive mirror.



Back to New York.  Peter Funch mingles with the crowd and seems to capture expressive panoramas as people go about their business on 5th Avenue.


Australia is represented by just 5 photographers, divided into just 2 cities. Sydney is represented by Trent Parke, Narelle Autio and Beat Streuli,  while Melbourne is represented by Bill Hensen and Jesse Marlow.  I don’t feel I need to introduce these photographers to you.

There are thousands of photographs from over 100 photographers from over 50 cities.

There are many poignant ideas that translate into poignant images.  It is a book worth a read.  Go and borrow it from the Stirling library.  Perhaps you could buy it from Thomas & Hudson. ($70.99 at Dymocks)