Scott, Clive. Street Photography: From Atget to Cartier-Bresson. New York: I.B. Tauris and Co., 2007. Kindle.


  • “Street photograph certainly puts us in a taxonomic quandary, not only because it stands at the crossroads between the tourist snap, the documentary photography, the photojournalism of fait divers (news in brief), but also because it asks to be treated as much as a vernacular photography as a high art one.”  (Introduction)
  • A street photographer absolves the viewer of moral responsibility for the photograph. (Introduction)
  • One difference between street and documentary is how they portray an issue. Documentary is more likely to show to worst angle in order to effect change, while street photographs are more likely to give a positive look – e.g. “weathering the storm.” (Introduction)
  • Street photographs are often black-and-white. “Color is often taxed with being preoccupied with appearances, with distracting, superficialising and ‘glamour;’ while black-and-white, for its part, has all the gravity of a perpetual asceticism, which, by dint of self-denial, is able to reveal and interpret underlying relationships.” (Chapter 1)
  • The reason for preference of black and white in street and documentary photography may be because, even as late as the 1950s, color photography was difficult to achieve, so by stint of what was achievable to street photographers, who were often everyday people without the money or time to develop color photographs, street photographs, by necessity, had to be in black and white. (chapter 2)
  • Another possible reason for the use of black and white photography is the continuing belief that they are capable of cutting out an unnecessary element of the photograph, color, and revealing the mystery or meaning for the photograph; in documentary photographs, it may be just the human condition, in street photographs, it is the adventure in everyday life. (chapter 2)
  • “But if the street-photographic eye is drawn to these moments of eerie encounter, wills a ‘poetry’ into existence, where the documentary wishes to be a laying bare because its motivation is not investigative clear-sightedness, but curiosity.” (chapter 2)