Although I have made pictures on the street for a long time I am now concentrating on making more of this kind of image than I have in many years. Personally, I find seeing people and brief moments a pleasure after making so many images of static subjects and studio work recently. It is exciting and challenging for me to look at the world around me in this way for a change – again. I think that we are in a crucible where new forms of images are being born as well as new rules about how they are gathered and used. The role of the photographer and the nature of photographs made on the public commons of our streets is being redefined.
I am interested in looking at this, partly because I think it is “time” . Now every picture is in color, and with modern gear I can gesture with a camera and see moments more freely than with yesterday's equipment. The experience of walking – and being - on the street is very different compared to the streets of 25 or 35 years ago. For example, the street environment is now filled with advertising photographs and projected images on screens. The bags we put our stuff in and much of the clothing we wear is advertising too. Photographs are constantly being churned out by the cameras on the street by tourists, kids snapshooting with cellphones or by the growing numbers of surveillance cameras which relentlessly monitor parts of our cities for our own protection.
We are living at a very special period in the development of our visual culture. In the late 19th century the introduction of the Kodak hand camera and the use of rollfilm made the use of glass plates and stand cameras into a niche practice ; this happened almost exactly as the printed image exploded in use through the widespread adoption of halftone reproductions in the popular press. Everyman became a photographer, in fact so much so that there were occasions that photographers were identified as a public nuisance with their incessant, pesky snapshooting.
I think there are some strong parallels between the late 19th century image explosion and what is happening now as the size of our contemporary image world inflates exponentially. The growing use use of email, databases and social networks to share images means people rarely look at prints and the distinction between an image, a slideshow or a video is unimportant to many users today . New forms of literacy are being being born along with new paranoias and rules about how pictures aregathered and used. The photographer's role and their use of public space is once again in question. This is alsopart of my subject matter .
Presently I am working with an archive of two or three thousand images made in half a dozen Canadian cities during the last year. I think I will still have a lot more pictures to take before it will be time to end this work - again -.