Best Shot From the Nine Eyes of Google

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Collections of imagery culled from Google Street View have been around for some time now, but Jon Rafman has the best eye for discerning the funny, surprising, and poignant moments captured by what amounts to the most extensive documentary photography project of all time.

Google’s endless mechanized street surveillance is the ultimate photographer: fast, tireless, nearly everywhere, and often invisible, allowing a candid glimpse of the world that would be distorted or even prevented altogether by the presence of a person pointing a lens. With no active photographer, the camera makes no decisions; the beauty is all in the editing, and that’s what Rafman is so good at.

Some recent favorites:

And this one might be my all time favorite (for obvious reasons):

I love this picture so much, I don’t know where to start. A yard sale, perhaps. But is the insouciant alien with an attitude as bold as his bandanna for sale — or is it actually his sale? Maybe he’s been out there for hours, and is on the verge of napping? Or just bored from his time on Earth.


Joshuah Bearman has written about CIA missions, jewel thieves, deranged private investigators, aspiring Fabios, bitter rivalry among dueling Santa Clauses, and the metaphysical implications of being the world's greatest Pac Man player. His article for Wired became the movie Argo. More from this author →