Why content analysis in street photography? Why not let photographs be as they are without making too much theoretical fuzz about them?
Dancing © Knut Skjærven
Both can be honoured.
Content analysis has a special place in New Street Agenda. In a learning situation, it can help bring you from one phase to another. It may show you were you are at the moment in your photography, and suggest a road for further development.
Content analysis is a tool for progress.
There are, basically, two types of content analysis. They serve different purposes.
The two types are quantitative content analysis and qualitative content analysis. The first goes wide and might end up in statistical overview of a series of photographs. The second goes deep and may expose things like attitudes or judgements in the same photographs.
You may want to know the percentages of men and woman used in a specific newspaper over a period. You simple count them and give the result as numbers. That would be an example of quantitative content analysis.
If you in addition would want to know how men and women are used (positive, negative, neutral), you would have to look closer at each image to see how people are placed in relation to each other, what kind of lenses used, how colours are used, are people smiling, etcetera. That would be example of a qualitative content analysis.
The two differ in another aspect as well.
It is relatively straightforward to make a quantitative analysis of the type mentioned. You need to be able to recognize men from women and to count them. It can be relatively complicated to do a qualitative analysis of the same photos. You need know what it is in a photograph that constitutes the qualitative aspects of it.
You are much more reliant on the person, who does the analysis for you, when you ask for a qualitative analysis as compared to a quantitative analysis.
You could say that that quantitative versus qualitative contents aims at describing the hard and the soft contents of a photograph. In New Street Agenda we will use these terms.