Itching Images: Workshop Shortcuts

Riverside © Knut Skjærven

Riverside © Knut Skjærven

Itching Images:

Workshop Shortcuts


Ideas don’t necessarily emerge in a correct sequential order. More often they just arrive and you have to arrange them along the way.  Or afterwards.

Those going to the workshop in Berlin are already deeply involved in dealing with the gestalt factors described elsewhere on Street Photographer’s Toolbox. You’ll find links in the blogroll.

The relatively few gestalt factors like proximity, similarity, closure and others, feed a much larger number of Itching Models in street photography.

It is my suggestion, that gestalt factors have instinctively been used by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ronis, Frank, Erwitt, and plenty of others that we know from early and contemporary street photography.

That is the hypothesis.

What can executions of gestalt factors in street photography look like if you want to try it out for yourself? I have tried to indicate that in a series of posts called Itching Images.

All posts are accompanied by a concept or demo photograph that hopefully helps explain the itching idea.

It is imperative to remember, by the way, that good street photography does not come from following schemes. But it sometimes helps to know which shoes to wear for which landscapes.

You ALWAYS have to add a portion of talent. And stamina.

This document is simply a shortcut to those posts accompanied by a very brief description, and sometimes explanation, of the names I use for the itching models. Not all names explain themselves.

This post is a Workshop Special, but others are welcome to read along as well. And try the way on their own.

Here comes the list and the shortcuts. Welcome and good luck.

Actor’s Studio

Any scene in which the position of people seems so precise that they could well have been placed there by a film director for a movie.

Actor’s Studio is the name of maybe most famous “drama school” in the world. Located in New York.


Any scene that contains, not only different subjects or objects, but subjects or objects that are poles or in opposition to each other.

In the shot used you have man/woman, younger/older, and living/non-living art objects as the set of poles.

People, in some situations, are of no less artistic value than more traditional pieces of art.

Decisive Moment (Simple)

Any scene that contains a decisive moment.

In this shot, it is the young lady who is captured in such a decisive moment. She is in mid air.

Decisive Moment (Complex)

Any scene that contains several decisive moments individually established.

In this shot there are many: the guy in the foreground, the laying couple, the male face on the boat, the sitting dog. In their own right they are all caught in decisive moments.

Final Cut

Any scene in which you can enhance the message by making a final cut.

In this context, a final cut means a tight crop that stresses the already dynamic content of a photograph.

Good Genes

Any scene in which a simplicity, harmony and symmetry is significant.

In the study of people, such traits are some times associated with beauty and having “good genes”.

Jam Session

Any scene in which you combine a larger number of separate, visual parts that seemingly has nothing to do with each other.

After a while you recognise that it all fits together.


Any scene in which two or more people or objects are placed close together in a contrasting way to make a distinct visual impression.

Close to, or even the same as contraposition. See above.

Lady In Red

Any scene in which one or more colours are used as a creative and distinctive mean in the making of a photograph.

The colour stressed in this photo is, obviously, red.

Little Boxes

Any scene in which the composition basically consist of a pattern of squares and rectangles.

If you look closely at this photograph you will recognise the pattern.

Lost Expectations

Any scene in which there is a substitution of one object/subject for another and very different item often causing a humorous result.

In this shot the contrabass is a substitute for a man.

Love Is In The Air

Any scene that has affection, or romance, portrayed in a somewhat distinctive and different way.

The itching element in this shot is that the young lady has a heart on her blouse.

Odd Man Out

Any scene in which one or few persons or objects breaks a pattern by a different way of acting.

The first guy in the row has clearly spotted this photographer, and he breaks the pattern made by the others.

Plane Integration

Any scene where two or different planes plays together in at somewhat, and sometimes, humorous way.

Planes are defines as different grounds in the image e.g. foreground, middle ground, or background.

Rhythm & Blues

Any scene in which a strong visual rhythm is broken by one or a few visually distinct distractions. Like, for instance, one or more human beings.

The lady is obviously the blues element in this shot of somewhat uniform rhythm.

Saturday Night Fever

Any scene in which there are impressions of life, movement, possible romance. Like in a party Saturday night.

In this shot it is expressed by the movement, interaction and the presence of people.

Soft Solution

Any scene in which items are deliberately blurred or softened to gain a special visual effect.

This example is not available at the moment. Try later.

Strange Encounter

Any scene in which persons engage in a visually distinct encounter. Like, for instance, by having a strange body position.

Reference is to the two persons in the staircase.

Sudden Surprise

Any scene in which one of more people are caught by surprise and that surprise are visually distinct.

Reference is to the two kids at the end of the alley.

Two Of A Kind (Complex)

Any scene in which two or more groups of people or other objects/subjects are distinctive shown. Three Of Kind, Four Of A Kind, are also included here.

This example is not available at the moment. Try later.

What Is Not There

Any scene where something needs to be consciously or unconsciously added by the spectator.

In this shot, the heads and the feet of the two involved are obviously missing.

Writing On The Wall

Any scene in which there, in addition to people, is a readable text and that text reflects on the scene involved.

Here the reference is to the HCB quote on the wall. It reads: “Photografie, das ist nichts. Was mich einzig interessiert, ist das Leben.”

Now we know :-).

Oh, one last thing. This lists may change over time. Some Itching Models may go. Others may come. After all, operating in the real world is a process of constant trial and error.

Thank you for having spent time on this post. Have a good day.

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved. Text and photo.

Please, you should not copy, distribute, download, or in any other way use of distribute this post and the content of it unless you have a written permission by the site author to do so. However, you are welcome to SHARE the link.

Copenhagen, May 21, 2013.


  1. #1 by elisam75 on May 22, 2013 - 9:41 am

    Thank you so much for this !!!

  2. #2 by flyfishertc on June 14, 2013 - 11:36 am

    Thanks Knut. In writing an article on history of european street (which I have temporarily suspended as it was a bigger project than I thought) I tried to come up with classifications of street photos; several others have tried. Would be good to discuss this when we meet!

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