No urban art hype without urban art photographers? Due to the fact, that urban art forms like graffiti and street art, are highly temporary it’s necessary to document them. For that reason, there are several more or less famous photographers, specialized in documenting street art and graffiti in its urban contexts. These are some of the protagonists…
Photographing Graffiti Action
To protect graffiti and street artworks from weather, so-called street collectors and other urban transformation, a loose guild of amateur photographers, semi-professionals, photo journalist and photography enthusiasts was created to not just photographically preserve urban art for the next generations, but also to document the process and the adrenalin and feeling of probably illegal street action. Those photographers keep alive the hype around urban art by pushing artists and providing insights no one else than the artists themselves could usually have had.
Often it’s a somehow journalistic life-cycle of reciprocity and although the main focus usually is on the artwork or the artists, more and more highly skilled urban art photographers become popular themselves…
The following list of top urban art photographers is not intended to be exhaustive and just includes boys and girls I stumbled upon or came in touch with due to my street art and graffiti addiction. If your photo-archive also includes great urban art photographs: drop me a line.
For years now, also I’m documenting street artists in Berlin and other European metropolises like Paris, London, Barcelona and Madrid and just set up my yet fragmentary photo-portfolio! Check it out: www.urbanart-photography.eu.
Urban Art Photography
Keegan Gibbs – One of the most important and best-known graffiti photographers is Keegan Gibbs. His main focus lies more on the artists than on the artworks. Because of that, he went along with several well-known American writers, such as Augor from Los Angeles.
Paviani – Belgian photographer Vivian Hertz aka Paviani is not only urban art documentarist, but can safely be added to this list. His mostly monochrome graffiti photos often portrait writers.
Martha Cooper – The US-American Martha Cooper unfortunately is the only female urban art photographer in this list, but her legendary Subway Art book, which was published in 1984, is a milestone in the medial writing documentation.
Mr. T – The Frenchman Mr. T is also an important urban photographer. His photos often convince with attractive perspectives and interesting colors.
Jürgen Große – For years, Berlin based photographer Jürgen Große documented urban art in Berlin. His Urban Art Photography book shows interesting and high-quality impressions from the streets in Berlin on about 200 pages.
Ciax – Another interesting graffiti photographer is the Italian Ciro Guastamacchia aka Ciax. For years he has taken photos of graffities and especially of the atmosphere while painting.
Nils Müller – Nils Müller belongs to the best German graffiti life action photographers. His photobook “Blütezeit – Prime Time Of My Life” gives not only an insight into the fine art of street photography and graffiti, but also in the rail systems of European cities.
Just – Due to his good contacts into the scene, Berlin based photographer Just is in a position to get good shot as one of the first. His main focus is on documenting street art and graffiti live action as well as exhibitions in and around Berlin.
Alex Fakso – One of the most famous photographers for graffiti and trains is the Italian Alex Fakso. His photographic focus is mainly on the artistic documentation of illegal spray-actions. Usually it is not the urban artwork itself which is in the center of Fakso’s shots, but the supercharged atmosphere. You can get more info about him and his book Heavy Metal.
Ruedi One – Another photo ace of the graffiti scene is Ruedi One who is one of the directors of the spray can producer Montana. Similar to Fakso, Ruedi One’s urban photographs live on the vicinity to the artists. A well-known work of him is the Montana Writer Team Issue (preview), which photographically portrayed the graffiti artists Atom, Cantwo, Dash, Kent and Smash137.
Timo Stammberger – A less known but very interesting urban art photographer is the German Timo Stammberger. His work includes well-staged subway tunnels, as well as the recently published urban artist photos, a photographic insight into the lives of mainly Berlin urban artists.
Mihály C. – The Hungarian Mihály C. currently studies photography in Vienna. His focus is particularly on the roads and rails of large cities – It combines not only the architecture, but also graffiti action. Whether posing in front or on the trains through the tunnel systems, Mihálys photographs always convey a certain depth..
Ian Cox – For about four years, the Briton Ian Cox walks from one urban art event to another, always documenting the artworks as well as the artist. His photo-stream includes nearly 8,000 photos of almost every street art show in the UK and serves as a visual diary and reference point for those people who are just learning about a featured artist or were unable to get to the event themselves.
MJay – Born and raised in Rotterdam, MJay found his way into documentary and street photography. His photos convince with their impressing colors and sections.
Ozkar Gorgias – Whether on the tracks or in the underground, Ozkar is always on the run. His great monochrome photographs present and record not only graffiti actions, but also the stressed atmosphere.
Norman Behrendt – Norman was born in Berlin and studies Communications Design at the University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam. His recent photography project, called Burning down the house, portrays unknown graffiti artists in their urban environment.
Jonas Lara – Jonas Lara is artist and photographer. His long term photography project Nachtaktiv documents artists both in their lives and in the process of their artwork. His photos give a deep insight into the creative life of creative people. By the way, he was arrested while escorting two graffiti artists on February 4th 2010 in Los Angeles…
Edward Nightingale – The Europe-based photojournalist Ed Night documents the graffiti-movement by focussing on train- and subway-graffiti. His nice photos live on their great and intimate views, showing mainly young guys on the rails…
Denis Falkenstein – For One night on the run German Denis Falkenstein followed some writers into the yard and created an impressing train graffiti series, including all the adrenalin and power.