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Street Art-the Other Artists

Updated on July 16, 2020
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years.

Public Domain
Public Domain | Source

"Street art is visual art created in public locations, usually unsanctioned artwork executed outside of the context of traditional art venues. The term gained popularity during the graffiti art boom of the early 1980s and continues to be applied to subsequent incarnations.

Artists who choose the streets as their gallery are often doing so from a preference to communicate directly with the public at large, free from perceived confines of the formal art world. Street artists sometimes present socially relevant content infused with esthetic value, to attract attention to a cause or as a form of "art provocation". Wikipedia

There are many who can be called artists and the majority of them pursue forms of art that are generally accepted as such.

But there are also just as many artists that for lack of revenue or venues that will display their art form have chosen to do their work in public spaces, usually on street corners, on walls and on basically any surface that lends itself as sorts of a "canvass".

Let's also remember that their medium if often a paint spray can and not a fine brush in the hand of an artist. Even more reason to admire their work.

These are probably just as talented as the more established and recognized artists yet they are often looked upon as being a nuisance since their work is said by some to be defacing public or private property.

I know that one should really ask first before doing anything to another's property but with society being they way it is, it's no wonder that these talented, and mostly, young artists see no other recourse but to express to the world how they view art whenever and wherever they can, even if done under less than ideal conditions.

CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

Like street art or find some of it interesting and worth photographing?

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The good thing about conducting this type of photo projects is that almost anywhere on the planet that you happen to live in, you are bound to find some street art, especially in large urban areas like major cities and such.

There are mainly two main reason for going out and looking to photograph these types of street art; you can either capture images from an aesthetic point of view; because you like them , or from a socially motivated stance; you want to show or you like the message that each images portrays.

There are of course many more reasons like to use them in a book, but the two previous ones are often thought to be the principal ones and I agree.

I have included samples that can be taken to be just works of art photographed simply because they looked nice and others that have a clear societal message.

But you may have to be opportunistic and take photos of street art wherever you see it since many are hard to find or do not last long thanks to the authorities or property owners.

Fortunately several more savvy property owners, especially those with a business facade, have not only allowed street art to be placed upon their property but have in actuality commissioned it. It is a great way to bring attention to the location!

Luckily we have such a place here in Miami. It is called the Wynwood Murals. The perfect combination of artistic talent and business coming together to create something new.

CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source
CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

Another good thing related to this type of photo adventure is that although it is mostly illegal to paint private or public propriety, it is not to photograph these works so you can take pictures at leisure.

Therefore start by scouting for the best ones in your area and note those that can also include a bit of the surrounding environment if it can ad interest to the overall shot.

Keep in mind that some street art is so "life-like" that photos might not do them justice. Including portions of the location not only makes the viewer of your photos aware of what it is that you took a picture of, but can ad a "story" as well.

A regular lens, a wide angle and a zoom should be all the gear that you will need since these three lens types will mostly cover all the possible shooting scenarios.

If you happen to come upon a street artist doing his work, please ask them for permission first. They may not realize that you appreciate their work and may mistake you for someone else, therefore leaving the work unfinished.

This has happened to me on at least two occasions. Fortunately I returned to the scene of the "scene of the crime" some time later and was able to see and photograph the completed art.

Public Domain
Public Domain | Source

Should space be set apart for these artists to freely practice their art?

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The best approach is to scout your hometown, capture many images and create an album. A story which includes the location, what the art may represent as well as some interviews from some of the artists should also be a part of the album.

Once everything has been gathered, then putting everything into a book like an eBook may be the best way to go.

There are many free sites that let you create your own eBooks. The ones that I mainly use are Booktango and Amazon Kindle.

Street fairs are always a good source of inspiration since they draw large groups of artists and here they are free to do their work as well as to sell it.

Bear in mind that street art has many representations like spray paint, using chalk, and water based paint plus many others. These are only around for a short time and the art work may quickly disappear. Be ready when on location to start taking pictures quickly.

For those samples that can stand the test of time, it is usually better to capture several angles as well as close ups and long shots. Better to have extra shots than too few.

Some of this art can sometimes be better appreciated when viewed from afar and this is usually if they are larger works. Do not rely only on what you can see since the human eye sees more details than any camera can.

CC BY 2.0  Wynwood Art District
CC BY 2.0 Wynwood Art District | Source
CC BY-SA 3.0
CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

© 2015 Luis E Gonzalez


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