Bystander: the history of street photography revisited

First published in 1994, this street photography bible has now been reissued by Laurence King with a new chapter and imagery

A spread from Bystander, featuring an image by Joel Meyerowitz taken on W. 46 St., New York City, 1976

Bystander: A History of Street Photography by photographer Joel Meyerowitz and curator/teacher Colin Westerbeck traces the evolution of the art form with encyclopaedic rigour, looking at the greatest practitioners and major events that shaped trends in street photography. The book was first published in 1994, and this month has been reissued by Laurence King.

Spread from Bystander

What is great about the book is that it isn’t simply a factual journey through time, but is more reflective analysis. It isn’t an album-esque photobook one can flick through, but rather a collection of essays and texts that are accompanied by illustrative imagery.

The text sheds light on the work and ethos of masters like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, Robert Kapa, Diane Arbus and William Klein. Thought provoking subjects like the ethics of photographing human suffering or role of images in shaping collective perception of events are discussed.

The new version brings the story of street photography up to date; a new chapter looks at developments in the medium in the years since the first edition. The inclusion of the last few decades means that more colour imagery has made its way into the book.

The reissue has a particularly striking image on the front cover, one taken by Magnum photographer Alex Webb on the streets of Havana, Cuba in 2000. Bystander: A History of Street Photography published by Laurence King, £45


Bedford, Bedfordshire