In the world of photography, there’s one art form that seems to be growing faster than all others: street photography. So, what exactly is it, and why is it becoming so popular?

We sat down with a street photographer to get the inside scoop.

Introduced to the camera at age 14, 20-year-old professional photographer, Matt Ervin, hadn’t decided to take the craft seriously until last year. “I kind of tripped and stumbled into street photography by accident, but I realized I loved it because I’m very attracted to natural things – things that take place whether I’m there to take the picture or not. And street photography is one of those things.” The art form allows Matt to play the role of an observer, surveying each location for something new and interesting to document. Instead of physically manipulating props and subjects during his photo sessions, simply changing his angle, along with a few settings of the camera, could help him land the perfect shot.

He continued, “It’s an overlooked art form sometimes. One that allows you to take a piece of your environment and manipulate it with your own creativity so that others may view it through the lens you have in your brain. Kind of like a mental filter.” This ability to be the author of his own visual story is what deeply fascinated Matt. It’s what keeps him coming back to the streets. “It allows people to view what you see, and what they may see every day, through a mental filter that makes it look completely different and unique. I’m able to capture moments that happen all the time, and most people just don’t see it. I’m able to freeze frame that and make art out of it. And I think that’s beautiful — that’s kind of why I’m very attracted to street photography. I can do all kinds of shit in the street. There’s no boundaries there,” he emphasized.

Unlike traditional portraiture, street photography involves a great deal of spontaneity. Since models aren’t always used as the subjects of photos, there are times when a lucky passerby may get caught in the lens of a street photographer. Such subjects aren’t always pleased with the results. “I think it’s the best representation of daily life, if done the correct way,” Matt told us. “It’s the best representation of what someone can look like behind the camera anytime, whether they were ready for it or not. I think that sets it apart from every other form of portraiture on its own – the fact that people sometimes aren’t prepared for the shot that gets taken, and I guess sometimes they don’t like that. But other times it turns out beautiful in its own way. And since it turned out that way without them knowing, it is beautiful in that way naturally.” Comparable to nature photography, street photography can require a degree of precision and finesse to capture a photo at exactly the right moment. “If you see a wolf running across the field, and you snap a perfect shot – and that wolf had no idea you were there – that’s just a natural thing, and street photography is kind of just like that. Just with humans and objects,” he detailed.  

Want access to the full interview with street photographer, Matt? Stay tuned for the launch date of WALK Magazine‘s third issue, where you can read Matt’s thoughts on the not-so-favored shortcuts that some street photographers take, and how these shortcuts could play into a lack of respect for the art form. 

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