The Wordbook

New Street Agenda has its own terminology. So we have made a wordbook.

The reason for this is very simple: what you can’t say you can’t see.

The wordbook is made on the run. When new terms are needed we will add them to the wordbook.

The wordbook is already in use at On Every Street: The Academy. You are welcome there as well.

T H E  W O R D B O O K


Being art of, in stead of simply being part of, means that a person or an object is part of a whole in an artistic or creative way.


A bipolar composition is a composition where the two sides have about the same strength and are divided and balances by a central vertical axis.


Common fate, in street photography, means a cluster of people occupied with the same objective in the same way. (Updated 190114).


Line or movement going from the lower left corner to the upper right corner of a photograph. Sometimes associated with an optimistic mood.


Line or movement going from the upper left corner to the lower right corner of a photograph. Sometimes associated with a pessimistic mood.


In this context, a FIGURE is a term for the main visual element in a photograph. Is does not have to be the largest by volume but often it might be. It will, however, always have a certain largeness.

On The Academy a FIGURE is always a human being, or a cluster of human beings, if the cluster is likely to be perceived as ONE unit.

If you need to verbally explain who or what your FIGURE is, you are already in trouble.

Don’t tell. Show.

In some photographs there may be figures almost competing for the charge of the photo.  When that happens it might be a good idea to speak of a First Figure and a Second Figure


The FIRST FRAME of a photograph is the outer borders of it. The CROP, so to speak. The FIRST FRAME is, in fact, the whole picture.


 A SECOND FRAME is a visual framing that you decide to have in your photograph to direct extra attention to the FIGURE.

There are plenty of ways to do that.

You can quite literally have your main man or woman stand in a doorway or look out a window. The door or the window will then be your SECOND FRAME.

Or you can do it more refined with lights, or shadows, or lines, or simply clearing the space around the FIGURE.


Gestalt factors tell you that there are certain visual constellation that speaks directly to your subconscious level. Groups and formed without you knowing it.

Two gestalt factors are mentioned below. There are more, but we will wait with them.

You can use the knowledge of gestalt factors both in analysing street photographs, and evidently in making them.


This factor tells you that things or people that, in one way of other, have similar traits will be perceived as a GROUP. (Innate level).


This factor tells you that things or people placed close together will be perceives as a GROUP. (Innate level).


This factor tells you that things or people moving in unison tends to be regarded as a group (innate level).


Having established a FIGURE in a photograph, the rest of the image is the GROUND.

Ground is not defined as something you stand on e.g. a floor. However, a floor, if there is such in the image, will always be part of the GROUND.

Unless, of course, you define the floor as the FIGURE, but that never pass on The Academy.


The inner horizon of a street photograph is everything of a psychological nature that connect to a photograph, including the perception of it.

The interesting thing is that the Inner Horizon also includes the perception of the Outer Horizon, as that needs to be perceived as well.


The outer horizon of a street photograph is everything of a physical nature, that connect to a photograph.


 The act, or the state of, two or more objects or subjects placed close together particularly to stress their contrast.


A NODE is a visual and visible crossing or a junction or other point of strategic interest that helps create a lively photograph.

In human beings NODES are often connected to the bending of and position of limbs. Not only in the isolated individuaL, but also related to others.

Bodily contractions like, for instance, folding of arms, and bodily expansions, like raising arms over the head will also work as NODES.

So will faces.


Whenever there are two or more possible readings of an image, guess what: The reader will go with the most obvious one.

Related to the ongoing November Challenge it reads like this: Whenever there are two or more possible FIGURES, the reader will go with the most obvious one.


A slowbody is a human being, male or female, who basically don’t know the meaning of acting.

We are not talking about Paul Newman or Marilyn Monroe here, but of acting in the very simplest fashion of the term e.g. taking or holding or responding to an initiative.

Slowbodies are many, some say they are the majority. Slowbodies will miss the train wherever they are going, if they know how to locate the railway station in the first place.

Slowbodies comes in different shapes and fashions. Be aware how to spot them. They are holding the world back :-).


A spread is a street photograph where you use the whole frame to make an even spread of people.

A spread should not have a single distinct figure or a distinct ground, but be a positive and constructive merger of people with similar visual significance.

In a spread you strive for a good separation between each human being in the shot.


Synchrony means that things happens at the same time. On The Academy we add a little to that meaning and ask that things also are of the same type.

Obviously this is a floating notion, but the closer the similarity and proximity are, the better it is.

Try to make it itching and humorous.

See also UNISON.


Tension is a distinct, dynamic state created by one of a few tensioners.


A tensioner is a distinct human being, or object, who/that goes against the overall fate/destiny of a photograph and thereby creates a distinct tension.

A tensioner can also be plural, meaning it can be more than one (but few) distinct human beings or objects who/that creates the tension.

A tensioner can also be called A Single Swede.


TOAK is short for Two Of A Kind.


Being of the same type, the same time and of the same form. See also SYNCHRONY.


A VECTOR is a connection from one visual and visible object to another.

VECTORS are the glue that binds things together.

VECTORS are of different types:

A person pointing at or touching another person or object is a PHYSICAL VECTOR.

A person looking at another person would be a MENTAL OR PSYCHOLOGICAL VECTOR.

Thera are other types as well, for instance VECTORS based on composition or graphics of a photograph. For the time being we call all of them for VISUAL VECTORS.


Visual agnosia, as it is used in this context, is the lack of ability and/or lack of knowledge to see and too read visual shapes and general visual dynamics in a street photograph.


 The visual syntax is way visual elements are arranged to make a visual message.


VOLUME is the visual size of an object.

We know that elephants, in real life, have large VOLUMES, and mice occupy small VOLUMES.

That might change if you have them both in a photograph. Have a mice in the foreground near the camera and the elephant at a distance, the mice will have larger visual volume than the elephant.

To be continued:

 © 2013-2014 Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved.


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