Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst (HCB)

"In a world that is buckling under the weight of profit-making, that is overrun by the destructive sirens of Techno-science and the power-hunger of globalization — that new brand of slavery — beyond all that, Friendship exists, Love exists". Henri Cartier-Bresson cited by IPHF.

Rue Mouffetard (by Henri Cartier-Bresson)

I've blogged about Henri Cartier-Bresson, the father of photo-journalism before , the first time after having seen an HCB exhibition in Germany, the second time in connection with my friend Lydia from Writerquake as there was a connection to her hometown Reno .

Now, two days ago, an HCB-exhibition was opened in the Kunsthaus Vienna with 214 photographs covering a period of five decades in three countries – the USA, India and the Soviet Union – during important phases of their history.

I was overwhelmed by the abundance of photographs and the information behind. There was a video titled street photography which can only be seen in French wherein HCB was interviewed by a bunch of journalists and was filmed when taking photos in a small market. I sat there for more than an hour fascinated by his attitude towards capturing life and reality.

There's another short video in English.

Contacts Henri Cartier Bresson english subbed from Ricardo J. Martins on Vimeo.

I googled his obituary from 2004 in the Guardian which has some interesting facts about his meeting with Mahatma Gandhi just minutes before his assassination.

Two more quotes:

Think about the photo before and after, never during. The secret is to take your time. You mustn't go too fast. The subject must forget about you. Then, however, you must be very quick.

The photograph itself doesn't interest me. I want only to capture a minute part of reality.


Lydia said...

Oh, how marvelous! I love your blog posts about the exhibitions you attend, and this one was special. I wish I could have been there with you to sit "there for an hour fascinated by his attitude towards capturing life and reality." I wish I could take a picture of you sitting there watching!

In the last years it seems photos of me are bad, especially when taken by my husband. He makes me so self-conscious and gets the ugliest expressions from me! I do not think that Henri Cartier-Bresson would agree with Michael's technique of holding the camera for long minutes just staring at me, then finally saying, "Try to look pleasant!" OMG! He always gets the opposite of that command.

Lydia said...

I meant to add how much I enjoyed the vimeo. What a treat to view his wonderful contact sheets and read his comments. I paused the video and wrote one of the comments down, when he was referring to photographers: "We're thieves, but to give."
That is beautiful.

francessa said...

Glad you like it! Sounds almost like an assignment for visiting more exhibitions! :-)

I have the same problem with my photos, simply hate them. The best ones usually come out when someone makes just, say, twenty shots in a quick row - usually there's at least one that's ok. I think that's a little bit contradictory to "try to look pleasant"! ;-)

francessa said...

Yeah, that quote is great! You could compare it to blogging.

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