Saul Leiter’s Street Art

I kind of get the feeling from looking at Saul Leiter’s artful and beautiful street photos that he is more comfortable keeping his subjects at a distance. They are often shot from behind glass or surreptitiously from across the street.

Normally when I see this kind of distance from the subject I think of Robert Capa’s maxim ‘if your pictures aren’t good enough you’re not close enough’ but clearly Leiter’s fine images are good enough.


It’s just that he hasn’t gone the route of a Klein or a Winogrand in reflecting urban anxiety.

His work is non-confrontational and fixates instead on the creation of visual beauty in a world of chaos, rather than getting up in the faces of his subjects. Whereas in the work of a photographer like William Klein we’re very aware of the characters of the people being shot, in Leiter’s work it’s unimportant in the way that the fruit in a still life would be.


Incidentally, found a great interview with the man on ‘Photographers Speak’ that’s worth reading.

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