Social documentary photography has its roots in the nineteenth century work of Henry Mayhew, Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine but began to establish itself through the photographic projects of The Photo League (1934-51) and the work of the Farm Security Administration (1935-44).
Street photography is considered by many commentators to be a sub-genre of social documentary photography. Street photography seeks to record, rather than create, candid and spontaneous pictures of everyday life in the street. In Bystander: A History of Street Photography (1994), Westerbeck & Meyerowitz write that, “The combination of the camera, as the instrument, and the street, as subject matter, yields a type of picture that is idiosyncratic to photography.”
Simon Hill is a UK-based editorial photographer specialising in archaeological and heritage subjects. His photographs have appeared in many books, newspapers, magazines and periodicals, including National Geographic Magazine, The Sunday Times Magazine and
The Observer Magazine.
Between 2011 and 2013, Simon combined his professional editorial photography with a personal street photography project. Inspired by a poem that he had found on the internet - This is London, by an anonymous internet blogger using the alias ‘Silent Dogwood’ - Simon explored a novel approach to the sub-genre of street photography:
“By juxtaposing a photograph (my ‘voice’) with a stanza from This is London (the ‘voice’ of Silent Dogwood) and an excerpt from a ‘classic’ poem (providing the ‘voice’ of a third party) I attempt to create, for each image, a four-way dialogue between me (the photographer), the two poets and the audience (the viewer).”