Hypebeast? Urban streets? Should our street photography follow the trend?

Recently I was introduced urban street photography such as “Hypebeast” style by few teenagers born around 97’s. I was shocked that I had no idea these styles of photography exists. The new stereotypes of photography by teenager nowadays often using symmetry, line, shape, light beam, faded, split toning, high contrast and low saturation to bring out the visual astonishing and cool feeling. Most of the urban street was taken at the city with high and compact buildings, illustrate the busy and modern life. Besides that, famous YouTube channels such as “Adorama” was featuring this kind of urban street photographer all the time. As a street photographer, I am visually attracted by those photographs and thinking it is new trend of photography would replace the works of traditional street photography such as Henri Cartier Bresson, Robert Frank, Vivian Maier, Fan ho etc. After knowing “Hypebeast”, me and my friends were tried to take urban street at town area for few months.

It is not what I imagined

In these few months of approaching urban street photography in Singapore, I bumped to a few teenagers who were also taking the same photos. However, their feeds in Instagram are mostly the same (styles, location, image processing, etc). This situation let me wonder, is there any point everyone take the same photo? Photography should be all about creativity right? (Disclaimer: the paragraph is not against all the urban street photographer, there are still a lot of creative urban street photographer such as @stevesweatpants, @007, @_yafiqyusman, etc.)

Above pictures extracted from various instagram accounts

Where is the storyline?

As we were focus on those urban street photography feature, such as symmetry, Hypebeast style image processing, but then, where is the storyline goes? For my point of view, photography is about storytelling, not just visually striking.

From another perspective

Urban street photography that is trendy nowadays also became commercialize as some of popular brand such as Nike and Adidias are targeting teen market. On the other hand, urban street photography is applied by teen to express their identity and thought, transmitting challenge, rebellion, persistent of teenager, liberty, no rules, freedom, wild, passion and feeling cool.

Picture extract from instagram - a feeling of liberty of urban street photograhy.

Picture extract from instagram - a feeling of liberty of urban street photograhy.

Be yourself and move on

To be honest, I have to admit that urban street photography is really inspiring. I can say it is not my cup of tea but can’t deny it taught me a lot (eg : variety of processing to present the images. However, it would tweak the essence of photography if we just blindly follow the trend and want to be cool as well. I love photography that tells a story, drives the viewer into emotional and mental impact. The most important thing is to use photography to express yourself. From here I hope teen photographer could look at the history of photography, appreciate the photography and learn the values behind it.

Picture by Robert Frank -  The American The photographs were notable for their distanced view of both high and low strata of American society.

Picture by Robert Frank -  The American
The photographs were notable for their distanced view of both high and low strata of American society.