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“a key source of spontaneity and innovation, authenticity and artifice... [offering itself as] an endlessly regenerating trove of pictorial opportunity… [or] an anti-composition, a formless mass… that refuses coherence.” 8 The city surely offers photographers myriad pictorial opportunities, and its fluid substance provides them with an abundance of secret treasures; but the city is also the place where photographers enter into a reciprocal relationship with a man-made environment, experiencing events as they happen, framing and weighting them with the idiosyncrasy of their individual gaze.

Susan Sontag asserts that “photographs are evidence not only of what’s there but of what an individual sees, not just a record but an evaluation of the world”.9 In street photography, this assertion finds validation and completion. Street photography is both seeing and evaluating the world, but first and foremost it is an eloquent engagement with it. In street photography the objective and judging eye is overwhelmed by an entirely engaged organism gripped by the experience of living and understanding the reality which shapes it and which it shapes. Henri Cartier-Bresson synthesises these assumptions into his own typically persuasive words:

I believe that, through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us, which can mould us, but which can also be affected by us. A balance must be established between these two worlds – the one inside us and the one outside us. As a result of a constant reciprocal process, both these worlds come to form a single one. And it is this world that we must communicate.10

16 | Street Photography as a Route to the Self

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