KRAMER O’NEILL (Street Photographer)
Street Photography: It’s brash, it’s in your face, it’s sometimes unwelcome, mostly you don’t even notice it’s happening, but the results by the masters record life in the raw, and have produced some of the most memorable photographs of all time. The legacy of street photography includes luminaries such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Joel Meyerowitz, Martin Parr, Bruce Gilden and a whole cadre of members of the Magnum photographic agency. It is, however, a wickedly difficult genre to nail down and perhaps the most exciting part of this photographic endeavor is its currency and democratic nature. Like in all forms of visual art though, there are a select few who emerge representing the exciting face of current work. One such artist is Brooklynite Kramer O’Neill, whose mastery of light whilst keeping an eye on the in-between moments is superb. Like a number of today’s street photographers, Kramer O’Neill is not a full-time photographer. He has a ‘day job’, and this constraint has in fact fueled some of his most successful work. One of his projects, “Same Time Every Day”, records his many, many lunchtimes spent stalking the same location near a former job in midtown Manhattan. When this constraint is applied, what emerges is a consistent story in the life of that location. It also allows O’Neill the best chance to capture classic moments and arrangements of light and form – the hallmark of great street photography.
The people in street photographs are commonly only bit-players on the artist’s stage. This game is really about composition and light. O’Neill’s work demonstrates that he is a patient and observant artist, who’s keen sense of the arrangement of objects, shadows and light allows him to be there as the perfect moment unfolds. This is something he shares with his self-confessed inspiration, Magnum photographer Trent Parke, whose work is celebrated for its fierce examination of light and composition. O’Neill has also then taken his camera and his sense of light to the water, culminating in stunning shots both around and in the water of NYC beaches that are perhaps his most iconic and defining works.
Street photography: the eclectic art. Never to be pinned down, we view the work of artists like O’Neill to see where it is, and where it might go.