This spring Tyler Green conducted an interesting experiment on Modern Art Notes. He chose 32 nominees for Greatest Living American Abstract Painter, set them up in a tournament bracket, and determined the winners through a public online voting process. Timed to coincide with the NCAA's college basketball tournament, the contest was a mix of March Madness and American Idol, with a heavy dose of High Art thrown in. The winner was Cy Twombly.
I've decided to set up a similar tournament for Street Photography. I've chosen 64 of the best Street Photographers in history, seeded them, and designed a tournament bracket.
Please take a minute to look at it. If you want to play along as we go, you can print this bracket out today, fill in your selections, and see how many winners you've picked six weeks from now.
A disclaimer about the bracket: These are my selections. They are not scientific. The guiding principle I used for inclusion was to ask myself, "If you put this person at the peak of their street career on 5th Avenue in New York for twenty minutes, who would return with the best, most streety, most serendipitous shot?" I generally gave more weight to historically influential photographers, which means you won't find many current shooters on the list. I gave weight to small-format, candid, unplanned shooters, which I consider the heart of street photography. The main exception is Arbus, whom I just couldn't leave out. I gave zero weight to documentary or photojournalist shooting which is why you won't find, e.g., Eugene Smith or Capa in the bracket.
I know many people will disagree with my names and seedings. I don't want to get bogged down in arguments about who should or shouldn't be where in the bracket. All I can say is I've put some careful thought into designing it, and hopefully you can accept that and play along.
The way the tournament will work is every Monday I will post one round of matchups in the sidebar to the right. You'll have one week to vote using the buttons in the sidebar. When considering how to vote, I'd encourage you to use criteria similar to my own ("5th Avenue...") but of course you're welcome to vote however you want.
On Sunday evenings I will tabulate results, and then post new matchups every Monday. The first round is fairly massive, with 32 matchups. But it will get simpler, as each round will eliminate half the photographers. The tournament will last six weeks. We should have a winner by Mid-June.
Please spread the word about this tournament to anyone in the street photography community who may be interested. The more participants the better. Have fun voting.