Bojan Fürst

Street photography

In Photography, Print on May 22, 2008 at 9:09 pm

Kids playing on the South End streets in Saint John, New Brunswick. In their imaginative game, they were saving the cat from an imminent danger. The cat seemed to play along.

Kids playing on the South End streets in Saint John, New Brunswick. In their imaginative game, they were saving the cat from an imminent danger. The cat seemed to play along.

(Published in Dubai-based Soura magazine some of the photographs are part of a photo essay on South End neighbourhood in Saint John. The essay won silver Atlantic Journalism Award in photojournalism category in 2004.)

Recently, I attended a talk by a well known Canadian art photographer at a local gallery. It was a pleasant occasion with the usual suspects in attendance: students, collectors, art dealers and a few souls who simply enjoy rubbing shoulders with someone whose prints sell for $6,500 a piece.

There was a psychiatrist in that crowed as well who kept insisting on having a particular photo explained to him in detail. The photographer was at the loss for words and I could not help but think of Lewis Hine who famously said: “If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.” Hine, one of the first social photo documentarians, understood well that the power of still photography lays in its ability to tell stories in a language which crosses cultural and linguistic barriers of a written and spoken word and provides an immediate emotional connection between a subject of a photograph and its audience.

For me, photography has always been about telling stories and interpreting the world around me. At the moment, I call Saint John home and photographing its streets is my way of becoming intimate with a city and its people. It is also my attempt to tell their stories and capture a spirit that is palpable among Saint John’s brick buildings steeped in the history of a once glorious centre of maritime commerce as Canada’s oldest city.

Saint John architecture is captivating. With the right angle and the right light, there are times I feel as though I have stepped into another time. This is one of those street scenes that says Saint John to me.

Saint John architecture is captivating. With the right angle and the right light, there are times I feel as though I have stepped into another time. This is one of those street scenes that says Saint John to me.

Every Labour Day (first Monday in September), Saint John whips itself into a frenzy of buying and selling at a massive flea market along the Charlotte and King streets in the cityÕs historic centre. The event is very photogenic and you can occasionally find a real treasure among the stalls as well.

Every Labour Day (first Monday in September), Saint John whips itself into a frenzy of buying and selling at a massive flea market along the Charlotte and King streets in the cityÕs historic centre. The event is very photogenic and you can occasionally find a real treasure among the stalls as well.

Street photography, however, is more than just about telling stories. It is also about asking the viewer to dwell on the scene and make up his or her own story, thereby creating a new narrative. That narrative, based on the viewer’s experiences and the knowledge of the world, is just as important as the one presented and witnessed by the photographer. It is only when those two stories are combined that a photograph reaches its full potential as a universal language bridging the linguistic and cultural divide between the photographer and its audience. Street photography is uniquely suited for that role because it is impulsive, intuitive and honest. It captures its subjects in simple, every-day situations and because there is no pretentiousness in what it does, it is easy for the audience to recognize characters and emotions as archetypes that can be easily transposed over their own reality. Human emotion and the spectrum of urban life tend to be remarkably similar across time and space.

Raymond noticed a pigeon who could not stand on his feet, which were entangled in thread. He managed to catch the bird with a bag of chips as bait and then proceeded to cut the thread around its feet with the help of his partner. The neighbourhood kids loved the show.

Raymond noticed a pigeon who could not stand on his feet, which were entangled in thread. He managed to catch the bird with a bag of chips as bait and then proceeded to cut the thread around its feet with the help of his partner. The neighbourhood kids loved the show.

I hope that in these photographs from Saint John, viewers on some other shores will find enough amusement, wonder and emotion to create their own stories and add another thread in the web of our shared humanity.

The Blandist is a band passionate about their rough and loud music. They are also considerate neighbours - in exchange for weekly practice time, they clean all the snow around the surrounding houses.

The Blandist is a band passionate about their rough and loud music. They are also considerate neighbours - in exchange for weekly practice time, they clean all the snow around the surrounding houses.

Glen Thomas is a wood carver living in a single room above a local convenience store. The cat inside his coat is his new companion.

Glen Thomas is a wood carver living in a single room above a local convenience store. The cat inside his coat is his new companion.

A boy looks at a pipes player at the commemorative celebration of the veterans participating in the Battle of Britain in the World War II.

A boy looks at a pipes player at the commemorative celebration of the veterans participating in the Battle of Britain in the World War II.

  1. thats me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😀 in the back

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