IS STREET PHOTOGRAPHY A SNAPSHOT?
Duh, of course not. Well, sometimes (ok, often) a great street photo is a matter of luck. Sometimes it just happens to be in the right place in the right moment and notice it.
But often a good street photo is the outcome of a wise direction work. Which doesn't mean staging or posing elements, but playing with unaware 'actors' in a candid setting. Street photos are a matter of spirit of observation, capacity of anticipating and visualizing happenings.
Sometimes a street photographer is able to take the photo he had in mind. But street photography is unpredictable and erratic and requires a lot of flexibility and readiness from the photographer, that might have to react fast to situations not to miss a good, unplanned and not foreseen moment.
The decisive moment is more important than composition, in street photography, but let's not forget that a decisive moment plus a good composition can make all the difference.
"At a time when staged narratives and rendered images are popular, I am excited by the fact that life itself offers situations far more strange and beautiful than anything I could set up"(Melanie Einzig).
WHY IS COMPOSITION IMPORTANT?
Composition and technique help the photographer making the viewer understand what captured his eye and what made him take a photo.
Composing means selecting the elements to include in the frame and organizing them visually.
Depth of field, composition rules, technique solutions, expressive capacity, personal sensitivity and artisitic vibes are what make a good (street) photo.
The rules of composition for street photography are the same as in photography in general (rule of thirds, leading lines, balancing elements, diagonals, symmetry, patterns, framing, paying attention at not cutting limbs, avoiding accidental overlapping of elements or disturbing elements, etc.).
The research of a neat form and a good composition should always lead our hand. In street photography there is not a neat separation between form and content. The two concepts are complementary.
"Technical virtuosity, original composition, and compelling content are all essential, even if they do not necessarily guarantee a great street photograph" (from Street Photography Now).
"I do not think I can change the world with my photographs, but I do firmly believe that a bad picture can make it worse" (Ferdinando Scianna).
And finally, from the missal of street photography:
"To take photographs means to recognize - simultaneously and within a fraction of a second - both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning. It is putting one's head, one's eye and one's heart on the same axis". (Henri Cartier-Bresson)