Street Photography without people 6

Over 99% of my photos feature people. There are several reasons for this. First of all, I discovered Street Photography like this. I had this idea that what was important was the people. Everything else was just scenery. I have often insisted on the fact that I did not feel any sort of routine in always walking the same streets indefinitely because in the end it was the people that interested me and even if the places were the same, the interactions, the gestures and the people were different. The rest mattered little or nothing to me.



The second reason is much simpler. I am hopelessly drawn to people on the street. I like to observe my peers, to see them interact with each other. See little scenes unfold in front of me. We sometimes encounter quite hallucinating or even funny situations, but very often these are quite mundane moments, but that does not prevent them from being beautiful ! When I look at a photo, my gaze is also drawn to people. I think it’s quite natural to be attracted to our fellow human beings. Obviously that is not enough. There has to be something else, that’s why I always try to capture gestures, attitudes, emotions. There has to be action to not end up with a boring static photo. This is one of the great difficulties of Street Photography. It’s not just taking pictures in the street …



For those who have followed my work me since my beginnings, you know that my style has evolved a lot since 2016. I have been an apostle of “the closer, the better”. I took a lot of it to take photos with that little Wow effect, of the guy who has a hell of a pair of bollocks by allowing himself to go into contact with people to bring back photos made 50 cms from their faces. I’m not saying that I don’t act like that anymore sometimes, but I have matured and I no longer have this need to show that I can be fearless, besides this style no longer interests me. For a few years now, I have preferred to step back to capture a scene or to integrate more context into my photos.



The city, the urban elements, the cars, the buildings started to take up more space in my photos. I started to integrate them as elements of composition that I added in my frame. I found it a lot more fun and realized that was what I liked. Little by little, the city itself was self-sufficient in photos. This is where I started to take more and more photos with no one in the frame.



What interested me the most was to suggest the human presence. We didn’t see a soul in the frame, but they weren’t still lifes. Nor were they hyper graphic photos like some do. I find these photos interesting from a graphic point of view, but so empty and souless !. Some are ecstatic in front of this kind of photos, me that leaves me perplexed. I want to keep this raw side of the street. I don’t want to turn what I see into something arty.



I went to search more or less recent files for a number of photos. I still have plenty more backing up, but I didn’t really want to look for more in my archives. Most of the photos were taken a maximum of 2 years ago. I have grouped them together in a little slideshow.



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6 thoughts on “Street Photography without people

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      I’m still drawn to people in the streets, but I try to be more curious about anything the street have to offer to me. It can be details, urban things, something that shows the presence of people around here … It’s easier to make an interesting photo with people. More difficult to do the same with no one in the frame

  • John Harper

    Currently it seems like the only option, there are so few people on the Streets. The get up close and personal method isn’t viable either. People might have been a little annoyed with someone putting a camera in their face before, now with Covid they’re going to be bloody furious…
    I’ve always liked a scene, it puts things into context and makes for an interesting shot. I’m not sure I want to take photos without people included though. That said I do occasionally and I can’t help repeating myself when I tell you that photo of yours with the white curtain billowing in the breeze is one of my all time favourites, there isn’t a soul in the frame and yet it’s an image with a huge amount of soul.

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      Getting up close is a gimmick. Speaking for me, it was just a way for me to make striking photos but they were for most of them empty. Some others work because there was something else in them. I think it’s difficult to make a good photo without people because you take off an important element. People catch attention and add a lot to the dynamic of the frame. I’m not into making only photos with no one in the frame. It’s something I often do but my preference goes to people.

  • Ian Kydd Miller

    This is one question I have asked myself many time, can it be street photography without people. My answer to myself is an unreserved yes. The article was interesting and sort of follows my own experiences.

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      Hello Ian,

      Street photography doesn’t necessarily need people in the frame, but I like it with people. Or I need the scenery to suggest strongly the presence of any kind of humanity. But one thing I don’t like is that arty thing some people photograph and labelled street photography