Review: The World Atlas of Street Photography

This book took me by surprise when I first saw it on Amazon. In the first place it is not published by a traditional photo publisher; but rather, by a university press. Furthermore, it is filled mostly with photographers that I have never heard of, even though I thought that I was more or less up to date on the street photographer scene. Don’t get me wrong there are some well known names here such as, Joel Meyerowitz and Bruce Gilden. But since this is a world atlas we get here an exposure, such as I have never seen anyplace else, to the whole wide earth of men and women who are hunting the urban landscapes for fine photo opportunities. As the book’s introduction puts it, “. . . the book reflects on the endless and diverse appeal of the urban landscape to artists.” (p. 10)
The organization of this oversized tome is geographical. The major divisions are: North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia. Within each division are subdivisions featuring major cities, like New York, Mexico City, London, Johannesburg, Melbourne, Beijing and Delhi to name some. Within the cities individual photographers are introduced with a small sample of photos and a page or so of commentary and quotations. In the back there is a helpful index of the contents.
The quality of the photo reproductions if fine and much more of it is in color than black and white. To be more specific there are 500 color and 140 black and whites. The quality of the images chosen varies widely as do the styles. There is something here for every photographer to love, and to hate. It certainly is a good place for street photographers, especially beginners, to see how diverse is this genre, for which one might be either encouraged or dismayed. It should also be noted that this is not a history of street photography, though historical persons are mentioned from time to time. The focus here is upon presently working photographers both professional and amateur. It most certainly is a good addition to a well developed street photography library.
The World Atlas of Street Photography
By Jackie Higgins. Yale University Press, 400 pages.