This photo has all of the elements of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s work that inspired me to shoot in his style. My camera does not allow me to shoot directly in black and white so I started with the colored original. Converting it in lightroom into black and white. Cartier-Bresson never believed in cropping his work, capturing what he wanted to in the original frame. He also was the master of candid photography, capturing people in natural moments. I feel this phot did both of these things very well. This lady was aware she was being photographed but never tried to pose or change for the photograph. She just reached out, grabbed the fence, and trailed off with her eyes. It captures a certain feeling and mood that is enhanced by the rest of the photo. The window with curtains drawn, the almost institutional doorway, and the plastic ashtray give a good composition, capturing a more complete picture of her environment without feeling cluttered or distracting. I used the lens adjustments to scale from 100 down to 98, leaving the small border of undeveloped space. This is to emulate Cartier-Bresson who always had prints done with the last millimeter of negative space left on to illustrate he had not cropped the work. The only lightroom adjustments I used were to enhance the details of the photo. I increased the contrast, the clarity, and the whites, while decreasing the blacks. I feel this really brought out the details of her face and the contrast of the fence to make the photograph really stand out. I feel like this all combines for a good tribute to Henri Cartier-Bresson and his work, capturing all of the elements that draws me into loving his photographs.
Henri Cartier-Bresson was witness to and photographed much of the global political history of the early 1900’s. He was there to capture the lows such as America’s great depression, China’s descent into communism, and post-stalinist Russia. An hour before Ghandi was assassinated, he was there taken his photograph. He was there to capture the highs as well, from the coronation of the King and Queen of England, to stunning shots of a young Marilyn Monroe. He had an eye for the grit and strife present all around him in the world and had an uncanny ability to capture it in all of its realness. He traveled all over the globe and showed us all what was truly happening around us.
Beyond his ability to be at the right place at the right time to capture the world as it was changing socially or politically, what becomes so impressive about his work is the perspective he possessed while shooting his photographs. He was adamantly against cropping or editing his photographs, getting exactly what he wanted in his viewfinder and letting the picture speak for itself with no modifications. His exclusive use of black and white tends to parallel the subjects of his works, showing us in stark contrast the reality of the world as he saw it. His photographs capturing the black and white of any given situation, frozen in time for examination by any who choose to see it.
When shooting things of less global significance he was known to be quick and agile, covering the reflective parts of his camera with black tape. This allowed him to unobtrusively snap photographs without anyone being the wiser. Adding to that, he wore clothes that allowed him to blend in to the background. Moving quickly and not lingering in any one spot was another of his techniques for capturing his work. This allows his images to feel real and genuine, unaltered by the subjects awareness of being photographed.
I believe the most important thing one can learn from Cartier-Bresson is to always strive for better, for more. He never got wrapped up in his work. While it is always great to appreciate what you have accomplished, he was known to say that once the picture was taken he was already looking for the next one. If you start to appreciate your work too much and get caught up in it, you will eventually only manage to hold yourself back. This tendency and train of thought is one that I have always felt personally, and reminds me of a phrase that I believe captures the sentiment of Cartier-Bresson’s mindset: Satisfaction is the death of desire.
Henri Cartier-Bresson is credited by some as the father of modern photo-journalism. His work falls mostly into a genre called street photography, though I imagine his work predates the genre classifications assigned in modern times. What draws me to his work is the reality he captures. He worked exclusively with black and white, and did all of his composition through the viewfinder. When getting his photographs developed and printed he left the last millimeter of negative space around the outside to show that the images had not been cropped but taken exactly the way he intended. His first work with photojournalism was the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in the London streets of 1937. He took not a single picture of the royals, instead focusing on their subjects who were lining the streets. I believe he had a unique perspective and tended to see more of the reality around him than most people will allow themselves. I hope to capture even just a shred of what he was able to while taking my own photographs.
Portraits are a chance to capture something about the subject in the photo that one may not see everyday, or may want to capture and hold forever. My children are the two most important people in my life so they became the perfect subjects for this series of photographs. The majority of the time they are blurs of motion. Smiling, running, playing are they norm. Everyone sees that side of them, and its quite easy to capture. What I was interested in capturing was the side of them that people dont often get to see. The quiet moments, the thoughtfulness, the concentration are present in the photos I have selected.
The first two photographs are of Quinn. I have always loved the look of people in black and white, its my favorite way to see photographs of a person. The first photo of Quinn was the perfect candidate for black and white and adding the vignette seemed the perfect touch to compliment the photo. Providing a halo of sorts around a serene face. The second photo just popped right out at me as a complete picture of stillness that shines through in Quinn when no one seems to be looking. I just did a little cropping and brightened it up a touch as it seemed a pretty perfect picture to begin with.
The second two photographs are of Jude. I chose in the first photo to use the dark vignette because it seemed to match his mood in the picture. There seems to be something under the surface that I thought this photograph did a great job of capturing so I enhanced that feeling. The second picture was just a classic shot of him that wasnt posed. It just came across as a natural moment in the bathroom that I witness everyday. I did some cropping with this photo as well, removing some excess details.
The last photo I included was of me. Being shot in profile and looking away lends a thoughtful air to the photograph. I played with the contrast and clarity to eliminate what I could of the blurriness, but the little bit thats left seems to add an almost dreamlike quality to the photo. I like this photo at the end of the photos of the children because it ties them all together. The photos preceeding this one could almost be the thoughts in my head in the final picture.