Wednesday, August 04, 2004

At The Moment

Looking Back
Originally uploaded by edwest.

Like many, I was sad to hear the news of Henri Cartier-Bresson's passing earlier today.

In reading assessments of his loose, spontaneous style, I particularly liked this description from an AP story:

"Cartier-Bresson disdained artificial settings and said photographers should shoot accurately and quickly, seeking 'the decisive moment' when the ultimate significance of a given situation is laid bare. He shot with a Leica, the quietest of cameras, working only with black and white film, and notably, without a flash. Limelight, he said, was a sure way to destroy a subject.

To make the camera as unobtrusive as the human eye, he went so far as to tape over its silvery parts in black and would keep it hidden under a handkerchief until the critical moment. The aim was always to capture something of his subject's inner essence – to pinpoint 'a relationship between the eye and the heart.'"

Maybe it's just an excuse for laziness on my part, but I really identify with photography as a quick snap of a button on some random street corner. These types of photos capture something that could never be depicted in a studio, no matter how perfect the lighting, no matter how expensive the equipment. For me, photography is a skeletal enterprise, not a an attempt to recreate the largesse of Hollywood on a 5' X 7" frame.


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