Street photography appeared in the very beginning of photography ever since. At first, it explored Western cities, from Paris to New-York, and now follows the excitement of a globalized world in perpetual motion; where the rhythm of mega-cities and the crowds that pass through them is constantly accelerating. It is therefore regularly reinventing itself. Witnessing architecture, fashion and technology changes, as well as the evolution of social codes.
But the street photographers' process still remains the same, always on the lockout to capture a volatile moment. He immerses himself within the mass of passers-by and captures the hazards, encounters and collisions that occur between city dwellers and their urban setting.
All About Photo has compiled the most interesting examples of such photography. Below is our list of best street photographers who have been able to unveil the raw beauty of our fellow humans. In this list, you’ll find a mixture of famous street photographers from past and present to get you inspired.
Garry Winogrand as seen in the documentary All Things are Photographable
Garry Winogrand (1928 - 1984) was an American street photographer, known for his portrayal of U.S. life and its social issues, in the mid-20th century. Photography curator, historian, and critic John Szarkowski called Winogrand the central photographer of his generation. He supported himself by working as a freelance photojournalist and advertising photographer in the 1950s and 1960s, and taught photography in the 1970s.
Henri Cartier-Bresson by Martine Franck / Magnum Photos / Fondation HCB
Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908 - 2004) was a French humanist photographer considered a master of candid photography, and an early user of 35 mm film. He pioneered the genre of street photography, and viewed photography as capturing a decisive moment. Cartier-Bresson was one of the founding members of Magnum Photos in 1947.
Vivian Maier, Self-Portrait, 1959
Vivian Maier (1926 - 2009) was an American street photographer whose work was discovered and recognized after her death. She worked for about 40 years as a nanny, mostly in Chicago's North Shore, while pursuing photography. She took more than 150,000 photographs during her lifetime, primarily of the people and architecture of Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles, although she also traveled and photographed worldwide.
Walker Evans, profile, hand up to face, 1937
Walker Evans (1903 - 1975) was an American photographer and photojournalist best known for his work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) documenting the effects of the Great Depression. His elegant, clear-eyed frames capture the specificities of vernacular life across the country; his subjects range from dense cityscapes and cluttered storefronts in New York City to sharecroppers in Alabama and barbers and churches in small towns and rural areas. Evans helped pioneer the documentary and modes of photography, and his work influenced major figures including Robert Frank, Diane Arbus and Lee Friedlander.
Joel Meyerowitz, 2004
Joel Meyerowitz is an American street, portrait and landscape photographer. He began photographing in color in 1962 and was an early advocate of the use of color during a time when there was significant resistance to the idea of color photography as serious art. His work is in the collections of the International Center of Photography, Museum of Modern Art, and New York Public Library, all in New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago.
Bruce Gilden @ Michael Ernest Sweet
Acclaimed street photographer with a unique style, Bruce Gilden was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1946. Bruce Gilden’s work has been exhibited widely around the world and is part of many permanent collections such as MOMA, New York, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and the Getty Museum.
Saul Leiter, New York 2008
Saul Leiter (1923 - 2013) was an American artist and photographer famed for his great contribution to the canon of color photography. Leiter is most famous for his early street photography from the 1940’s, with its painterly effect of transitory street moments, he captured his East Village neighbourhood in New York. His black and white street photography was composed in the same way.
William Klein (1928 - 2022) is a photographer and filmmaker noted to for his ironic approach to both media and his extensive use of unusual photographic techniques in the context of photojournalism and fashion photography. The New York Times' Katherine Knorr writes that, along with Robert Frank, Klein is considered ''among the fathers of street photography, one of those mixed compliments that classifies a man who is hard to classify.''
Magnum photographer and filmmaker Elliott Erwitt in the WestLicht, the center of photography in Vienna. Vienna, June 12, 2012
Elliott Erwitt is a French-born American advertising and documentary photographer known for his candid and often humorous black-and-white images. Erwitt is responsible for some of the most iconic photographs of the 20th century, including indelible portraits of figures like Marilyn Monroe, Che Guevara, and Richard Nixon. Over the course of his career, the artist has published numerous photobooks, often with a particular focus on dogs.
Helen Levitt, self-portrait, 1963
Helen Levitt was an American photographer and cinematographer. She was particularly noted for her street photography around New York City. David Levi Strauss described her as ''the most celebrated and least known photographer of her time.'' Helen Levitt was most well known and celebrated for her work taking pictures of children playing in the streets.
Martin Parr during the conference held on 6 October 2010 at Les Champs Libres in Rennes, France
Martin Parr is a British documentary photographer, photojournalist and photobook collector. He is known for his photographic projects that take an intimate, satirical and anthropological look at aspects of modern life, in particular documenting the social classes of England, and more broadly the wealth of the Western world. With over 100 books of his own published, and another 30 edited by Parr, his photographic legacy is already established.
© Tatsuo Suzuki, self-portrait
Born in Tokyo in 1965, Tatsuo Suzuki started taking pictures in the year 2008. Since then his personal and direct style enthrall the world of street photography. His monochromatic images are distinguished by their essentiality and the ability to make you feel deep emotions.
Portrait of Eugène Atget, c. 1890
Eugène Atget (1857 - 1927) was a French photographer who is celebrated for his mixture of urban documentary photography and street photography which recorded the disappearing neighborhoods, street scenes and architecture of Paris. Atget received little recognition before his death in 1927, but due to the posthumous efforts of photographer Berenice Abbott, his work was preserved, promoted, and gained its rightful place in history.
Harvey Stein is a professional photographer, teacher, lecturer, author of six books of photographs, and curator based in New York City. He has had 79 one-person exhibits and has participated in more than 160 group shows in the US and Europe. Documentary photography with a personal style best describes Harvey Stein's work made during many years as a very productive and engaged photographer.
Alex Webb, 2011
Alex Webb is an acclaimed and very productive American photojourmalist, member of Magnum Photos since 1979, best known for his vibrant and complex color photographs. Over the past 45 years, Webb has worked in places as varied as the U.S.-Mexico border, Haiti, Istanbul, and, most recently, a number of U.S. cities.
Lee Jeffries © Photo Festival Photographique de Moncoutant
Lee Jeffries lives in Manchester in the United Kingdom. Close to the professional football circle, this artist starts to photograph sporting events. A chance meeting with a young homeless girl in the streets of London changes his artistic approach forever. Since that day Lee has been on a mission to raise awareness of – and funds for – the homeless. His work features street people from the UK, Europe, and the US whom he gets to know by living rough with them, the relationship between them enabling him to capture a searing intimacy and authenticity in his portraits.
Lisette Model self portrait
Lisette Model (1901 - 1983) was an Austrian-born American photographer primarily known for the frank humanism of her street photography. A prolific photographer in the 1940s and a member of the New-York cooperative Photo League, she was published in PM's Weekly, Harper's Bazaar, and US Camera before taking up teaching in 1949 through the intermediary of Ansel Adams.
© Eric Kim
Eric Kim is an international street photographer currently based in Los Angeles. Through his blog and workshops, he teaches others the beauty of street photography, how to find their own style and vision, as well as how to overcome their fear of shooting strangers.
André Kertész in New York, 1982
André Kertész (1894–1985) has been hailed as one of the most important photographers of the twentieth century. Working intuitively, he captured the poetry of modern urban life with its quiet, often overlooked incidents and odd, occasionally comic, or even bizarre juxtapositions.
Robert Frank © Dodo Jin Ming
With his Leica, 35 mm black-and-white film, quick reflexes and piercing vision, Robert Frank (1924 - 2019) is perhaps one of the most influential photographers of all time. His most famous work, published in the 1959 book 'The Americans', continues to serve as a touchstone and template for generations of street photographers. Over time and through its inspiration of later artists, The Americans became a seminal work in American photography and art history.
Lee Friedlander, born in 1934, began photographing the American social landscape in 1948. In the 1960s and 70s Friedlander evolved an influential and often imitated visual language of urban ''social landscape,'' with many of his photographs including fragments of store-front reflections, structures framed by fences, posters and street signs.
© Jesse Marlow
Jesse Marlow is a Melbourne based street photographer. His works are held in public and private collections across Australia, including the National Gallery of Victoria, Australian Parliament House Canberra, Monash Gallery of Art, City of Melbourne and State Library of Victoria. Marlow is a member of both the international street photographers’ collective, Institute Artists and UP Photographers.
Weegee with his Speed Grafic camera
Arthur Fellig, known by his pseudonym Weegee, was a photographer and photojournalist, known for his stark black and white street photography in New York City. He worked at night and competed with the police to be first at the scene of a crime, selling his photographs to tabloids and photographic agencies.
Guido Klumpe was born in 1971 in Germany. He's been taking photographs since he was sixteen years old. After graduating from high school, he traveled through Southeast Asia. From then on he was infected by street photography, without knowing that this genre even existed. He discovered the magic of the decisive moment.