Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Black and White (Street Photography and Image-Making)

16 November 2015


1. Whitney Sculpture Rooftop; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

1. Untitled, Robert Morris, 1965, Outdoor Gallery, Whitney Museum of Art, Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

2. Flower Girl, Meat Packing District; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

2. Flower Girl (flower and garden shop), Meat Packing District; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Let me know which you prefer and why. Click on each image to enlarge.


Special Note: I will be fully immersed in family festivities over the next two weeks. My cup overflows with glorious emotions that run deeper than words can tell. I will be floating on day-after-day filled with celebratory traditions that will lead to one heartfelt event. I will be cyber-free beginning 20 November through 28 November (missing next week’s challenge), and will post for the challenge on 30 November. Hope that your time between now and then will be spent enjoying your family, friends and nature’s offerings.  

I’ve been ruminating about the direction of my image-making, where my aesthetics and interests are leading me. Two themes seem to be emerging, and I wonder how to combine them: nature photography and street photography.

Each seem to be at odds with each other, but maybe not. I continue to think about how these genres of photography challenge my sensibilities, provoking me to represent them within a frame that reduces them in size and changes perceptions of them.

Photography offers me a chance to see anew. Each time that my mind moves through the lens, I am coaxed to discover a world that is simultaneously familiar, known  and unknown. It is a conundrum that follows me and is never really resolved, just momentarily satisfied.

While what I see becomes fresh and refreshed, it’s always about the light, process and image. At a particular moment my intuition accelerates and flashes of time are stilled.

Each image becomes a component of who I am and who I am becoming. My life has been forever changed through my photographic eye.

After a recent trip to New York City I became driven to understand street culture’s  magnet-like pull on me to witness its evergreen narratives. While I am aware of the masters of photography who made street life more than an ordinary occurrence, their work also has made it an essential part of the oeuvre of art, of art history.

In my attempt to understand the deliberations and nuances of street photography, I am studying the images and words of those who have made this genre as essential today as it was in the near and distant past. In this process I have been collecting quotes about photography that apply to this exploration. Here are a few:

“I fell in love with taking pictures, with wandering around finding things. To me it feels like a kind of performance. The picture is a document of that performance.” Alec Soth (American, 1969)

”Photography is about finding out what can happen in the frame. When you put four edges around some facts, you change those facts.” – Garry Winogrand (American, 1928-1984)

”There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative. Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.”- Henri Cartier-Bresson (French, 1908-2004)

The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street. – Robert Doisneau (French, 1912-1994)

”I don’t believe a person has a style. What people have is a way of photographing what is inside them. What is there comes out.” – Sebastiao Salgado (Brazilian, 1944)

“There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.” – Robert Frank (Swiss, 1924)

“I have always felt that a lot of the most interesting work, not just mine but other people’s, falls into [the] nether area, somewhere between the worlds of documentary and photojournalism (two very vague words) and the world of art. I think a lot of street photography falls into this nether area.” – Alex Webb (American, 1952)

In the Lens section are two images that I consider street photography. Each may or may not be “judged” to be in that genre. The first is a sculpture installed in an outdoor gallery at the new Whitney Museum of Art. It’s not on the street, but is part of a public space. The second is a flower and garden shop where it’s hard to determine where the street ends and the store begins.

Regardless of the outcome of my endeavor, I am inspired by the ordinary and extraordinary can be found on Main Street USA or a tiny European village or an urban center or truly anywhere on the streets of the world. Everyday life provides those infinite moments to capture and freeze–moments that accelerate or slow in time and space.

Photography is an agent of change, using image-making to pursue various interpretations of reality. Even when I deliberately recognize a desirable or precious moment, it’s dependent on the confluence of serendipity, coincidence plus external and internal forces. That very scene may have various realities for other photographers. In truth, these limitless opportunities can be caught and exposed, but their sense of worth is very much in the eye that realizes them.

Tip of the Week: Joel Meyerowitz (American, b. 1938) is one of America’s most gifted street photographers. He has had a long career that has produced an archival record of street life. Here are some words by Meyerowitz to consider:

“I believe that street photography is central to the issue of photography—that it is purely photographic, whereas the other genres, such as landscape and portrait photography, are a little more applied, more mixed in the with the history of painting and other art forms.” – Joel Meyerowitz

“You know, he (Winogrand) set a tempo on the street so strong that it was impossible not to follow it. It was like jazz. You just had to get in the same groove… You know, if you hesitate, forget it. You don’t have to learn to unleash that. It was like having a hair-trigger. Sometimes walking down the street, wanting to make a picture, I would be so anticipatory, so anxious, that I would just have to fire the camera, to let fly a picture, in order to release the energy, so that I could recock it. That’s what you got from Garry. It came off him in waves – to be keyed up, eager, excited for pictures in that way.” – Joel Meyerowitz, from Bystander : A History of Street Photography by Colin Westerbeck and Joel Meyerowitz.

New York City, featured in "Everybody Street," Joel Meyerowitz

New York City, featured in “Everybody Street,” Joel Meyerowitz

View other entries for this week’s challenge:


As always I welcome comments about this post or any part of my blog. My photographs for the mobile photography challenge are taken with an iPhone 6.

If you’d like to join this Mobile Photography Challenge, please click here for details and history of the challenge. If you have any questions, please contact me. Below is a reminder of the monthly schedule with themes for upcoming challenges:

1st Monday: Nature.

2nd Monday: Macro.

3rd Monday: Black and White.

4th Monday Challenger’s Choice (Pick One: Abstraction, Animals, Architecture, Food Photography, Night Photography, Objects, Panorama, Portraiture, Still Life, Street Photography, and Travel).

5th Monday: Editing and Processing with Various Apps Using Themes from the Fourth Week.

This entry was posted in Black-and-White Photography, Human Nature, Mobile Photography, Photography, Street Photography, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

58 Responses to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Black and White (Street Photography and Image-Making)

  1. phoartetry says:

    I like the first one. The interplay of light and shadows creates an interesting abstract photo. Light is nothing without shadows.

  2. Aquileana says:

    The First photograph stands out!. I also enjoyed the section “Tip of the week”.
    Thanks for sharing and all the best to you. Aquileana 🚗🏁

  3. Tina Schell says:

    Interesting post Sally. Hope you are enjoying your break. My husband and I have a Meyerowitz print that was a gift 20 years ago–one of my favorite things. And Cartier Bresson is a photographer I very much admire. Lots to think about in this one.

  4. That’s a funny picture by Meyerowitz that you closed with.

  5. MJF Images says:

    I really like the second shot. Street is not my go-to genre, but I really love it when I’m doing it. Thanks!

  6. I enjoy both images, but my favourite is the first one for its more abstract character. Otherwise I agree with you and the ones you quote that street photography in many ways is the essence of photography and very central to photography.

  7. Forestwoodfolkart says:

    What can I say but both are entrancing images. The first has an awesome composition and the long shadows are so attractive to the eye – particularly the human’s shadow, which appears larger than normal. The second image is quite powerful too, offering a social commentary. Your post about the direction of photography makes me think about my own. In preparing for the next challenge in this series (I am usually too late to participate in the current week’s), I have looked back on some early phone photography and am quite reassured to see that I have improved and now take much more interesting photos, at least in regards to light and composition. It is exciting to think of it as an evolutionary process! I also tend to think of the urban environment as a different kind of, but still a kind of natural environment.

  8. Have a glorious holiday time off my friend.

  9. Maria F. says:

    Both are different, the first one is urban design, the 2nd is truly documentary.

  10. So much to ruminate upon. I have been thinking I should be more consistent in my photos then th light shines through a leaf or a cat comes to the door and I’m off clicking what’s in front of me. Your two photos give permission to keep exploring. I could imagine taking both photos. I do love flower girl. She touches my heart.
    Thanks for the quotes. Just what I needed to hear.
    Enjoy your holiday

  11. pattimoed says:

    Hi Sally. I love the abstract quality and the interplay of light and shadow in the first image. It’s striking. But the writer in me likes the second shot as well! Have a wonderful holiday and time with family and friends.

  12. Gallivanta says:

    Glad you will be immersed in wonderful family festivities. 🙂 My favourite photo this week is the first one. At first glance there is simplicity but on closer inspection there is so much complexity.

  13. Debbie H says:

    I have to comment that I really enjoy your interesting and insightful posts, you have a lovely way of telling us about the photographs and your thoughts. I like both photos as they are completely different, in many ways, to each other. Enjoy your celebrations.

  14. Nato says:

    I really like the first photo. I think I am drawn in by wanting to see more, what will the person do next and what would the art look like up close. Great capture.
    I hope you enjoy your cyber free time with your family. I look forward to hearing stories and seeing pictures that you will most likely take and think of during your break:)

  15. Su Leslie says:

    These are both great images Sally, and they highlight the way photography has multiple languages and rhythms. Your images are so different to each other, yet both sit comfortably within, and add to, their own genre. Hope you have a wonderful time of festivity. Nga mihi nui. Su.

  16. thirdeyemom says:

    Lovely photos and enjoy your special time coming up with your family!

  17. I really like the second image- a stolen moment comes to mind- hope your holiday get-together goes wonderfully- and I look forward to seeing how your adventures in street and nature photography unfold!

  18. I love the lines and perspective in that first photo. The shadows are amazing

  19. DG MARYOGA says:

    Fabulous monochromatic work, dear Sally! Pure Art the first one with the geometrical shapes and the cast shadows, romantic the second candid where nature takes “Her”share too! Enjoy all the family festivities, my friend 🙂

  20. Angeline M says:

    I love both photos, Sally. The first for the lines and perspective you used, and the second just seems so perfect with the woman and the signs above her; a photo like the second one just seems to define street photography to me.
    Have a wonderful holiday, and what sounds like quite an event that is coming. Happiness to you.

  21. Photography is not a destination it is a journey, enjoy it all…I like the second photo, love the story it tells.

  22. They’re so different Sally and I love them both, but I do love the lines and shadows of the first image.

  23. Sally, I love the POV, shadows, and shapes of that first photo. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving season (we have so much for which to be thankful) and time with family and friends.


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