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In this article, we will explore the works of 10 incredibly inspiring street photographers who have left an indelible mark on the genre. Each of these artists has a distinct style, a unique vision, and an extraordinary ability to capture the human experience in its rawest form. Let’s delve into the world of these talented individuals and discover the inspiration they bring to the realm of street photography. 

Considered the father of modern photography, Cartier-Bresson’s iconic photographs are a testament to his extraordinary ability to capture decisive moments. His work embodies the concept of “the decisive moment” and continues to inspire generations of street photographers. 

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Josef Koudelka (born 1938) is a Czech-born French Magnum photographer. He is among the most important humanist photographers in the world. He is known for his dramatic black-and-white images which address a variety of social and political issues.

Josef Koudelka

Though lesser known than some of his Western contemporaries, Fan Ho was one of the most important street photographers of the 20th century, the remarkable images he captured of Hong Kong during the 1950s and 60s assert the zeitgeist of the time and continue to influence and inspire today. His images evoke a dramatic sense of scale, light and composition. 

Fan Ho

Diane Arbus (1923-1971) was an American photographer known for her portraits of people on the fringes of society, such as carnival performers, drag performers and nudists. Arbus typically gave her subjects the opportunity to present themselves as they saw fit. Arbus sought to find the beauty in adversity. She typically avoided cropping her photographs for emphasis, and instead printed the entire negative, a choice registered by irregular black borders surrounding the image. “For me the subject of the picture is always more important than the picture,” she said. “And more complicated.”

Diane Arbus

Alex Webb, Magnum photographer, is a master of capturing incredible layers of depth, with his works often having multiple private narratives contained within one image. He has an unrivalled knack for capturing serendipitous moments in full-blown technicolour 

Alex Webb

Known for her empathetic approach, Mark’s photographs capture the lives of individuals on the fringes of society. Her ability to establish a profound connection with her subjects has become iconic; She got to know the subjects she photographed very well, and she was able to convey who they were and how they lived, as well as a sense of their interior lives.

Mary Ellen Mark

Jesse Marlow is a Melbourne-based photographer, who for the last 20 years has worked for a range of local and international magazines, newspapers and commercial clients. Exploring the urban environment and inspired by the banality of modern-day existence, Jesse Marlow’s work is a sweeping study of suburbia, abandonment and daily rituals.

Jesse Marlow

Vivian Maier’s work became a posthumous sensation, discovered only after her death. Her images, often capturing candid moments of ordinary people, showcase her unparalleled eye for composition and an ability to encapsulate the soul of the streets, the way only an ignored person can.

Vivian Maier

Nikos Economopoulos (born 1953) is a Greek photographer known for his photography of the Balkans and of Greece in particular. He has worked as a member of Magnum since 1990. His famous series In the Balkans, speak not only of village life but also of conflicts and borders, migration and displacement, and nationalism – all seen through his unique compositional eye.

Nikos Economopoulos

Bruce Gilden (born 1946) is an American street photographer. He is best known for his candid close-up photographs of people on the streets of New York City, using a flashgun. He has had various books of his work published, has received the European Publishers Award for Photography and is a Guggenheim Fellow. Gilden has been a member of Magnum Photos since 1998. He was born in Brooklyn, New York.

Bruce Gilden

Walker Evans (born 1903) was a pioneer of the documentary style of photography. He was known for his work for the Farm Security Administration, and his black-and-white images documenting the impact of the Great Depression.  

Walker Evans

William Klein (born 1928) is an American-born French photographer and filmmaker noted for his ironic approach to both media and his extensive use of unusual photographic techniques in the context of photojournalism and fashion photography. Klein was a ‘wrong place, wrong time’ photographer who basked in the inopportune.  

William Klein

Julia Coddington is based in Australia and has pioneered a unique style of street photography thats colourful, chaotic and close. She uses her invisibility to insert herself into a scene, getting as close as possible to her subjects to capture the intimacy of gestures, movement and interactions, and to become one with the scene.

Julie Coddington

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Head On Photo Awards 2024

Entries to the Head On Photo Awards 2024 open in May/June.

Image detail: Gary Ramage