My love for street photography pre-dates my time as a photographer. But one thread that runs between all my favorite street photographers is a characteristically dark and moody aesthetic. Here are my top 10 to follow.
This will be the second time in a week I've mentioned this photographer, but he is without question one of my favorites, street photography or otherwise: Fan Ho was a Chinese photographer, film director, and actor, operating around the 1950s and 1960s, when he created some of the most striking and alluring street images of Hong Kong ever taken. His mastery of light and composition in natural settings had me captivated, and as I bought my first camera and began to look at more work, I discovered other icons of the medium, like Vivian Maier, Bill Cunningham, and Joel Meyerowitz.
It's easy to become transfixed on the greats and easier still to forget that greats are being formed every moment. Instagram is not a platform I have much affection for anymore, but its saving grace to me is the ability to follow and enjoy street photographers of the highest caliber. And yesterday evening, after some more scrolling through my feed, I realized that I have a clear penchant for not only street photography, but street photography of a specific aesthetic: dark, moody, and cinematic. This style is popular on social media, and I have spent a long time looking at different artists, so I thought I would collate my top 10.
This was strikingly difficult, as there are both dark street photographers I had to exclude to get it to my rather arbitrary limit of 10 and exceptional artists who oscillate between darker and lighter styles. Nevertheless, here are my picks, and if there's an audience for it, I'll gladly curate some more.
Although this list isn't in any order, Paola M. Franqui is my number one. Puerto Rican born, she lives in and expertly captures New York City in a way that makes every image seem to be a blend of high-end cinema and an Edward Hopper painting. My love for Franqui's work is sickeningly devout.
A British photographer living in my own backyard, London. While Jackson's work is often dark and gritty, it plays with bold colors and high contrast in a way that few can pull off successfully.
This is the only monochromatic entry to the list, but he's impossible to miss. Schaller is another London-based photographer, but his work is reminiscent of the classics in street photography that set me on this path all those years ago. He also co-founded what I believe to be the biggest street photography Instagram account there is, the Street Photography International Collective (SPi).
Billy D (is not my lover) creates some of the most ethereal street photography I've seen, with a clear attraction to adverse weather conditions. Billy Dinh is based in Brooklyn, New York and has only been a photographer since 2018, which is as inspiring as it is depressing.
Ashraful Arefin is technically a fine art photographer from Dhaka, Bangladesh, but his street photography account is superb. You'll see some beautiful light and a captivating look into the streets of Bangladesh, which is rich in character and texture. If there's one thing I'd like to improve about the photographers I follow, it would be to get street photographers from more cities around the world.
Visual Memories is somewhat of an enigma. I have no information on the photographer other than their name might be Jomayra Texeira, and they appear to be based in New York. I only found their name through a PayPal link. Either way, this account typifies the dark and moody street photography style.
Based in Portugal, João Bernardino's work is slightly more industrial feeling than the rest of this list, but no less stunning. Where most of the street photographers in this list shoot strangers in settings, it always feels like Bernardino shoots people and settings, with almost a man versus machine vibe.
This is a fairly new account and one I found only this week but is certainly very promising indeed. Jamie Robbins is based in Belfast and shoots a mixture of lonely, dystopian street images and surreal, almost fantasy-esque scenes.
Another photographer I couldn't find a great deal, about and they're another recent addition to my personal list. Peter Rask appears to be Danish but travels an awful lot, so his street shots are taken everywhere from Estonia to Vietnam.
Last — but so far from least — is European fine art photographer, Henri Prestes. His work is probably the most singular and unusual; it often looks like apocalyptic, impressionistic paintings, which is a blend of things I didn't know I needed.
What Are Your Favorite Dark and Moody Street Photography Accounts?
This is far from an exhaustive list. In fact, it doesn't even exhaust the photographers I follow in this rather narrow niche! I know I'm not alone in my love for this brand of work, and so now, I pass it over to you. Please leave your suggestions (even if it's your own account — that's welcome too) of the best street photographers shooting in this dark and moody style.
Lead Image "The Foggy Bridge" by Giuseppe Milo via Flickr, used under Creative Commons.