Street photography is a genre of photography that features subjects in candid situations within public places and does not necessitate the presence of a street or even the urban environment. 'Street' simply refers to a place where human activity can be seen, a place to observe and capture social interaction. The subject can even be absent of any people and can be that of object or environment where an object projects a human character or an environment is decidedly human.
Framing and timing are key aspects of the craft, with the aim of creating images at a decisive or poignant moment. Alternatively, the street photographer may seek a more prosaic depiction of the scene, as a form of social documentary.
Much of what is now widely regarded, stylistically and subjectively, as definitive street photography was made in the era spanning the end of the 19th Century through to the late 1970s; a period which saw the emergence of portable cameras. During the course of its evolution, street photography has provided a diverse and detailed record of street culture. The advent of digital photography, combined with the exponential growth of photo-sharing via the internet, has greatly expanded an awareness of the genre and its practitioners.
Paris is widely accepted as the birthplace of street photography. The cosmopolitan city helped to define street photography as a genre and the photography helped to form the city as well.
Eugene Atget, is regarded as the father of the genre, not because he was the first of his kind, but from his popularity as a Parisian photographer. As the city did, Atget helped to promote the city streets as a worthy subject for photography. He worked in the city of Paris from the 1890s to the 1920s. His subject matter consisted mainly of architecture; stairs, gardens, and windows. He did photograph some workers but it is clear people were not his main focus.
John Thomson, a Scotsman, began photographing the street prior to Atget, and had more of a subject aware style in comparison to Atget. Though he does not receive the same amount of accreditation, Thomson was vital in the transition from photographing only high class, manufactured portraits to capturing everyday life on the streets.
Henri Cartier-Bresson, who has a reputation comparable to Atget, was a 20th century photographer whose style focused on the actions of people. He was responsible for the idea of taking a picture at the ideal moment. He was influenced by his interest in traditional art, as he desired to be a painter. This influence comes through in his skill of combining timing and technique.
United States 
The beginnings of street photography in the United States can be linked to that of jazz in the music domain, both emerging as outspoken depictions of everyday life. This connection is visible in the work of the New York School of Photography. The New York School was not a formal institution, but rather comprised groups of photographers in the mid-20th century based in New York City. One of its most notable photographers, Robert Frank, was a part of the beat movement interested in Black-American and counter cultures. Frank rose to fame partly on account of his popular book, The Americans. Raw and often out of focus, his images questioned mainstream photography of the time, such as Ansel Adams's landscapes. The mainstream photography community in America fiercely rejected Frank’s work, but it would later become a stepping stone for fresh photographers looking to break away from the restrictions of the old style.
Most kinds of portable camera are used for street photography; for example rangefinders, digital and film SLRs, and point-and-shoot cameras. A commonly used focusing technique is zone focusing — setting a fixed focal distance and shooting from that distance — as an alternative to autofocus, particularly using wide angle lenses with their increased depth of field. Zone focusing also facilitates shooting "from the hip" i.e. without bringing the camera up to the eye. Alternatively waist-level finders and the tiltable LCD screens of digital cameras allow for composing the shot or adjusting focus without bringing attention to the photographer.
Street photography versus documentary photography 
Street photography and documentary photography are two very similar genres of photography that often overlap while having distinct individual qualities. Street photography has the ability to document while documentary has the definite intention of recording history. Documentary photography can be candid, but street photography is defined by its candidness. Street photography produces ironic amusement while documentary provides emotional intensity. The language of street photography is subtle and not as loud and outspoken as documentary photography often is. In the 19th century, the peak of street photography, most photographers were naïve to the fact that they were "documenting" history. As street photographers they had no definite intentions or goals beyond the production of a candid print.
Documentary style is defined by its premeditated message and intention of documenting particular events in history. The documentary approach includes aspects of journalism, art, education, sociology and history. In documentary's social investigation, often the images are intended to pave way to social change. Documentary's underlying motives complicate its ability to give a clear, impartial vision of the world. Street photography is disinterested in its nature, allowing it to deliver a true depiction of the world. Street photographs are mirror images of society, displaying "unmanipulated" scenes, with usually unaware subjects.
See also 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Street photography|
- Scott, Clive. Street Photography: From Atget to Cartier-Bresson. Landman Library: I.B.Tauris, 2007.
- Westerbeck, Colin. Bystander: A History of Street Photography. 1st ed. Boston: Little, Brown and Co, 1994.
- Gleason, Timothy. “The Communicative Roles of Street and Social Landscape Photography.” Simile vol. 8, no. 4 (n.d.): 1–13.
- Rangefinder, Daniel Norman, September 2, 2012
- Zone Focusing, Markus Hartel, January 22, 2006
- Zone Focus, photo.net, March 2004
- Wells, Liz. Photography: A Critical Introduction. Psychology Press, 2000.
Further reading 
- Bystander: A History of Street Photography by Joel Meyerowitz and Colin Westerbeck (Boston, Bulfinch, 1994).
- The Sidewalk Never Ends: Street Photography Since the 1970s by Colin Westerbeck (Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, 2001).
- Street Photography Now by Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLaren (Thames & Hudson, 2010) 
- Worldwide Photographer's Rights - privacy laws in many countries in regard to street photography
- Legal Rights of Photographers in the US by Andrew Kantor
- UK Photographers Rights Guide v2 by Linda Macpherson
- You Can't Picture This by Rajesh Thind - issues in the UK regarding photography from a public place (video)