Not all urban or street photography is fine art. It all depends on the photographer’s motive. Street photography is about narrative, and urban may be static, a look at the landscape or how things fit together with or without people.
Deborah Julian takes both and blends in fine art in a unique mix of elements. In different pictures, different values dominate. Mostly, to my eye, it’s the fine art. Beautiful compositions find more of the art in photography.
In this blog, I’ll show you some examples of what I find to be the most pleasing style of photography, at least for my tastes. I find that Deborah’s approach comes closer to the way I see things, although I am not a photographer. Hers is a less self-conscious, positive realism.
Charles Bridge, Prague, Early Morning, shown above, is a good example for anchoring the start of this blog.
Fine Art Street Photography in Prague
This photograph is opportunistic. In the spirit of Monet planning his outdoor paintings to use the natural light at its most evanescent, Deborah hauled her camera through the narrow streets of Prague’s Old Town to take her pictures as first light swept over the city.
As the day progresses, the historically significant Charles Bridge, begun in the Fourteenth Century, fills with foot traffic. Residents going about their business and tourists taking in the scenery are joined by musicians, street performers and souvenir vendors. You can’t walk a straight line for long.
In the early morning, it’s different, and the bridge itself is the star. It’s ornate street lights and statues remind you that such bridges were once more than efficient ways to cross a river. They participated in the communities urban art, repeating the values in the city around them.
In her photograph, Deborah captures the skyline of buildings jumbled close together in Old Town. Apart from the modern apparel, the scene probably looked much like this five-hundred years ago.
Color, Light and Composition
Before the glare of fresh sunlight changes the bridge, the even, soft tones of the scene are natural. You’re put at ease and relaxed by the natural feel from a time when an urban expression didn’t have to contrast nature, but emulated it in some ways.
The composition itself is painterly in a classic way. A balance of elements frames the setting firmly in place and people add a dynamic element, at this hour relaxed, more at ease.
Most people who visit Prague and appreciate the wealth of history will never see it like this. Mozart and Kafka walked here before cars and buses echoed through the spaces. Not just quieter, life was also slower. Neither quality automatically means better, but certainly different.
Deborah Julian’s photograph gives us an easier platform to image how smitten Bedřich Smetana must have been when, inspired by this place, when he composed Ma Vlast – My Homeland, a symphonic cycle about the history, legends and landscape of the Czech people.
Click here for more of Deborah Julian’s Urban Photography.