I didn’t even notice how awesome the necklace my sister brought me was.
Calaveritas se dice, pues!
Helen Levitt started out as an art teacher looking to document the chalk drawing on the streets as drawn by neighborhood children. One thing led to another and soon her photographs of chalk art began to include more of the kids themselves and soon the local people going about their daily lives.
Many of her photographs were in black and white, but as soon as color film became available, she jumped at the chance to document the city in vivid color. In order to support her street photography hobby, she became a film editor and documentary director.
Levitt’s name isn’t as well known as some of the other more famous names of street photography because she was too shy to promote herself as others did. Still, such was the quality of her work that magazines began to publish her work. She also earned scholarships which opened up the way for her to use color film.
When talking about street photography, it’s hard not to compare Levitt’s work with that of Henri Cartier-Bresson or Walker Evans who were both active around that time. It’s hard not see why since both met her and guided her in her style. While Bresson’s images have a more poetic and lyrical quality to them, and Evan’s pictures had a stark yet defiant look Levitt’s photographs are more raw, as if fresh out of the oven, while still maintaining an intimate manner to them.