The Los Angeles Recordings

A street photography project by Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin

(Re)Definition of Street

Many of my favorite “street” photographs barely have people in them. I’ve always thought that the popular definition of street photography is too limited. It simply strikes me as too broad a term for such a specific aesthetic. It’s easy add a prefix like “environmental” or “urban” to other photographic categories like portraiture or landscape to indicate a specific focus but with street that’s cumbersome at best. I usually settle on describing most of my work as urban landscape, which is technically accurate but fails to convey what truly motivates me as an artist.

One of the main reasons I became a photographer was to document the neighboorhoods I grew up in. The approach I developed largely focuses on the landscape but in a city like Los Angeles, it is almost impossible to separate the physical streets from the people that populate them. Even in their absence from many of my images, everyday people are present through the ways they shape the landscapes I photograph. Everything from the graffiti that covers the walls to the shoes people wear is street, it feels odd to even consider it anything else.

Over the years I’ve worked to perfect a photographic approach that focuses on both the physical environment of the neighborhoods I document as well as the people that live in them. I have found that this  technique best portrays the complex reality that is everyday life in Los Angeles. The thing is, whether the focus of my photograph is a liquor store or the person that just walked out of it, the end result is undoubtedly street.