4.5.2020 – recognition of

recognition of
forms which give an event its
proper expression

I sat this morning thinking of photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson.

One of the ‘greats’ who was an early adapter of use of the small camera and a roll of 35mm film.

He felt the photographers work was done once the shutter was pressed.

No cropping.

No work in the darkroom.

FRANCE. Marseille. The AllŽe du Prado. 1932. I was walking behind this man when all of a sudden he turned around.

He believed in composing his photographs in the viewfinder, not in the darkroom. He showcased this belief by having nearly all his photographs printed only at full-frame and completely free of any cropping or other darkroom manipulation. (Wikipedia from the NYTimes)

Take that Ansel Adams.

This is not a criticism of Mr. Adams.


Just recognition of the difference of the two.

Cartier-Bresson defined his work as ‘The Decisive Moment.’

Not, as might be guessed, that the photographer captured the decisive moment in history, the game winning hit, the great speech, the great debate or the second of assaianation.

But that the elements in the scene came together to create the decisive moment when the great photograph was there to be snapped.

Cartier-Bresson said, “There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative,” he said. “Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.”

While Cartier-Bresson was a world famous photo journalist and had assignments to capture the powerful and famous of the world, so many of his photographs are of no one, no where and nothing special.

It is the moment that he captured.

The moment of any where life every day somewhere that made the photograph famous.

Cartier-Bresson famously was assigned to photograph the coronation of King George VI in 1936.

He returned with rolls of film of the crowds in London.

The people along the street.

The faces in the parks.

And without a single photograph of the new King.

I have to wonder what his images of life today would look like.

I am going to start looking.

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