Henry Cartier-Bresson—a French humanist photographer—once said that a photograph could fix eternity in an instant.
Perhaps street photography is one of the genre’s that best demonstrates this. There is no time to pose a subject or to introduce light as we might when we ‘manufacture’ an image in a studio. Cartier-Bresson introduced the concept of the ‘decisive moment’ where emotional and visual elements come together to capture the essence of a scene in a precise moment of time. The photographer blends story telling with documentary skills to convey a sense of the place and to fix it in time.
The images I have shared were taken yesterday in Newtown, an inner-city suburb in Sydney—a bohemian neighbourhood quite unlike any other place in Australia.
It is an unconventional place that draws an eclectic mix of people and so a street photographer’s paradise. To convey a sense of this place it is imperative that a photographer thinks outside the box. I’ve decided to strip all colour from my images and practice ‘seeing’ in black and white. When we do away with colour, we are forced to be more creative. To look deeper and engage more. We begin to see shape & form, light & shadow, texture & patterns. The juxtaposition of white and black forces us to be more conscious of the strength that composition brings to an image that can no longer dazzle you by hiding behind a garment of colour.
As you look, you realise that the beauty of a monochrome image is actually in it’s shades of grey.
An image with the full tonal range between a bright white and a deep black helps create contrast, accentuating the story you are trying to convey. The ideas of compartmentalising everything to black & white, good & bad, extrovert & introvert, right & wrong, faith & doubt, night & day, heaven & hell, male & female, liberal & conservative start early in life. We are forced to choose a camp rather than explore a continuous spectrum of options. Our position on this sliding scale may depend on the stage of life we are at, as we transition from yin to yang and back again. When we look at the symbols more closely, we see there’s a seed of yang in the yin and vice versa as they flow into each other. Labels don’t really do justice to these complex issues or our multifaceted personalities.
It is in the grey area that magic is created.
As our cities become more globalised and we come into contact with cultures and belief systems very different to ours the drive to retreat to a place with ‘good’ people just like us becomes even stronger. But we can make a choice to be a shade of grey and create an image that is compelling.
Photography on the run and out in the street is in your face. It’s challenging. So is capturing an image devoid of colour. But if we are to grow, then we must be inspired to occasionally change our perspective and look at the world through a different lens.

“For the world is movement, and you cannot be stationary in your attitude toward something that is moving.” ― Henri Cartier-Bresson

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