7 Free-to-Stream Documentaries for Street Photographers

 

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”

Elliott Erwitt

 
 
New York City (1940) by Helen Levitt (via   Laurence Miller Gallery  )

New York City (1940) by Helen Levitt (via Laurence Miller Gallery)

 

Street photography has been around since the dawn of the camera. Although it was not nearly as popular as it was today, artists like Eugène Atget and John Thomson and laid groundwork for photojournalism, and artists like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Helen Levitt took these concepts and ran with them as photographic technology became more advanced and easier to get ahold of.

These documentaries, although not entirely about street-photographers, inspired me to get out into the streets more, and made me think a hell of a lot more about what I’m shooting once I got there.


Everybody Street (Cheryl Dunn, 2013)

This documentary let’s photographers tell their own story, speaking with New York street photography legends, including Bruce Davidson, Elliott Erwitt, Jill Freedman, Bruce Gilden, Joel Meyerowitz, Rebecca Lepkoff, Mary Ellen Mark, Jeff Mermelstein, Clayton Patterson, Ricky Powell, Jamel Shabazz, Martha Cooper, and Boogie.


Bill Cunningham New York (Richard Press, 2011)

" William John "Bill" Cunningham Jr. (March 13, 1929 – June 25, 2016) was an American fashion photographer for The New York Times, known for his candid and street photography. A Harvard University dropout, he first became known as a designer of women's hats before moving on to writing about fashion for Women's Wear Daily and the Chicago Tribune. He began taking candid photographs on the the streets of New York City, and his work came to the attention of The New York Times with a 1978 capture of Greta Garbo in an unguarded moment. " (via Zeitgeist Films)


The Many Lives of William Klein (Imagine, 2012)

" Born on April 19, 1928 in New York, NY, Klein studied painting and worked briefly as Fernand Léger’s assistant in Paris, but never received formal training in photography. His fashion work has been featured prominently in Vogue magazine, and has also been the subject of several iconic photo books, including Life is Good and Good for You In New York (1957) and Tokyo (1964). In the 1980s, he turned to film projects and has produced many memorable documentary and feature films, such as Muhammed Ali, The Greatest (1969). Klein currently lives and works in Paris, France. His works are held in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others. " (via artnet)


Leaving Home, Coming Home: A Portrait of Robert Frank (Gerald Fox, 2005)

" Sixty years ago, at the height of his powers, Frank left New York in a secondhand Ford and began the epic yearlong road trip that would become ‘‘The Americans,’’ a photographic survey of the inner life of the country that Peter Schjeldahl, art critic at The New Yorker, considers ‘‘one of the basic American masterpieces of any medium.’’ Frank hoped to express the emotional rhythms of the United States, to portray underlying realities and misgivings — how it felt to be wealthy, to be poor, to be in love, to be alone, to be young or old, to be black or white, to live along a country road or to walk a crowded sidewalk, to be overworked or sleeping in parks, to be a swaggering Southern couple or to be young and gay in New York, to be politicking or at prayer. " (via NYTM)


McCullin (Jacqui Morris, David Morris, 2012)

" Sir Don McCullin was born in 1935 in London’s Finsbury Park, a poor and rough area at the time. Leaving school at fifteen with no qualifications, McCullin signed up to National Service in the RAF as a photographic assistant. In 1959, McCullin took his first published photograph of The Guvnors, a London gang who had been involved in a murder. This inimitable image appeared in The Observer that same year. It was this, teamed with his decision based on nothing more than his own intuition to go to Berlin to photograph the start of the building of the Wall, which secured his contract with The Observer in 1961. Initially based on projects in London, his commissions soon took him around the world, starting with the Cyprus War in 1964. This marked the start of his career as a photographer of war and other human disasters. " (via Hamiltons)


Joel Meyerowitz Street Photography Video (1981)

" Joel Meyerowitz (b. 1938) was born in New York City and began taking photographs in 1962. Although he has always seen himself as a street photographer in the tradition of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank (he is the co-author of the standard work on the genre, Bystander: A History of Street Photography, 1994) he transformed the mode with his pioneering use of color. As an early advocate of color photography (mid-60’s), Meyerowitz was instrumental in changing the attitude toward the use of color photography from one of resistance to nearly universal acceptance. " (via Howard Greenberg Gallery)


War Photographer (Christian Frei, 2001)

" In 1976 Nachtwey started work as a newspaper photographer in New Mexico. In 1980 he moved to New York to begin a career as a freelance magazine photographer. His first foreign assignment was to cover civil strife in Northern Ireland in 1981 during the IRA hunger strike. Since then, Nachtwey has devoted himself to documenting wars, conflicts, and critical social issues. He has worked on extensive photographic essays in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, Israel, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda, South Africa, Russia, Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosovo, Romania, Brazil, and the United States. " (via Nat Geo)