Clive Scott is professor of European Literature at the University of East Anglia. His approach to documenting the origins and development of street photography (“SP”) is scholastic, but nonetheless, with applied effort, absorbing and thought-provoking. The reviews at Amazon give the book short shrift, undeservedly so, in my opinion.
His approach is grounded in the tradition of photographic criticism. “My history is … somewhat capricious and designed to serve the specific tasks I have set myself”‘ he says in his introduction. Hence, it rewards the determined reader.
A very good job is made of capturing the complex relationship between impressionism and photography and putting this into the context of contemporary literary thought.
I particularly liked his discussion of the emergence of photography “out of the studio and into the street”; from the enmity of Charles Baudelaire to the position where photography is seen as the “art of the imaginary par excellence” (Soulages).
For readers who want a simple historical account of the development of street photography, this book will not be for you. If however, you want to understand the history of SP against an emerging tradition of photographic criticism and an interest in the phenomenological roots of photography, then please take some effort to read this book. Effort it will take, but rewarded you will be.
1. Out of the studio into the street —
2. The street-photographic and the documentary —
3. Street arts and street métiers —
4. Street photography : the appropriateness of language and an appropriate language —
5. Streets, buildings and the gendered city —