Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Matt Stuart: Modern Street Photography
Posted by Jay at 6:45 PM
Last week's post centered heavily on street photography from the age of black-and-white film, so this week will see some more contemporary works in the same field, more or less. One of the reasons why good modern street photography is hard to come by is because most amateurs make the process more about themselves than about the photographs. Others just rehash the works of the old masters. Photographer Matt Stuart breathes fresh air into modern street photography through his whimsical and stimulating images.
Matt Stuart spent most of his teenage years skateboarding on the streets before being inspired by the works of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank that he decided to start photographing the streets instead of skateboarding on them. Unlike these legends however, Stuart takes on a particularly modern and upbeat approach to his work.
Armed with his trusty Leica, Stuart has walked the streets of his city for 11 years, looking for "happy accidents", which is an apt description for his serendipitous captures.
Stuart's photographs may be called accidental (or more properly coincidental), but they espouse Cartier-Bresson's principle of the decisive moment that they almost seem to be staged. In truth, Stuart may spend several hours at a time staying the same location, shooting around the same subject matter before coming up with that decisive shot.
In looking for the right scene to capture, Stuart has learned to become invisible, wearing discreet clothes and carrying his camera close to his body. If ever he attracts the attention of his subjects, he mentions that being polite and smiling especially has helped him out of awkward situations.
Stuart's photographs grab your attention because of the light-hearted humor in them, but you can't help but be drawn in time and time again because of their inherent honesty; not only are they actual events that happen almost every day, some of these photographs are evocative of the kind of society in the area that they were taken. In most cases, that kind of symbolism can be found in almost all large cities and urban areas around the world, making it easy for anyone to relate with the photographs.
Simply put, Matt Stuart's images work because they depict the human condition at its most innocent and straightforward state.
Matt Stuart's photographs don't appear to have been published yet, so go on over to his website to see more of his color and black-and-white images done in the modern style. Check out this blog wherein Stuart describes his street photography process in interesting detail.