The proliferation of Instagram-ready smartphones has been both a boon and a detriment to the art of street photography. On one hand, it has brought about a renewed interest in the innovators and pioneers of the genre—people like Eugène Atget, who is widely considered the godfather of the genre, or Henri Cartier-Bresson, who had a knack for catching people at the exact moment they did something interesting. On the other hand, it has convinced many wannabe shooters that anyone with a working cell phone and a decent filtering app has the ability to capture something beautiful. And maybe they’re right. But it doesn’t change the fact that there’s an art to this art, and that some folks are just more in tune with the rhythm of street photography than others.
Compiling any sort of “list” is always a challenging task, as the nature of being constrained by a number will inevitably mean that plenty of deserving talents will be left off (at least for this year). And when it comes to the 50 photographers featured here, we aimed to be as all-encompassing as possible; no restrictions were set in terms of geography, age, style, or experience. The only adamant criterion is that the artist is currently contributing to the craft.
In some cases, the photographers profiled here have decades of portfolio work under their belts. For others, street photography is a relatively newfound endeavor. Some artists are intent on introducing little seen parts of the world in their work, while others are putting fresh spins on cities we’ve all seen photographed a million times before. Whereas some of the artists gravitate toward the dark side, others are inspired by glimpses of glee. But in each case, the shooters in question are regularly producing consistently engaging work—be the focus on people, places or things—that tell a story going well beyond the moment captured on film. These are The 50 Greatest Street Photographers Right Now.