Exercise 3.3

The human way of seeing is different from the way a camera records.

Interesting books to read in this regard are:

  • Livingstone, M. 2014. Vision and art. The biology of seeing.  A book about how we see and how our brain processes that information.
  • Arnheim, R. 2004. Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye. The book casts the visual process in psychological terms and describes the creative way one’s eye organizes visual material according to specific psychological premises. 



The Decisive Moment

All theory on photography is debatable. The decisive moment is no exception. For me it’s “a” decisive moment. There is more than one moment thinkable were elements in motion are in balance. All pictures need some balance in visual forces. It’s a stylistic choice. Therefor I can follow the thought that ‘the decisive moment’ has become a stylistic cliché. But clichés develop for a reason. Catching the decisive moment in for example wildlife photography creates beautiful pictures. For other types of photography other theories might be better suited.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

‘What matters is to look, but people don’t look. Most of them don’t look. They press the button. They identify. But to seek the meaning beyond this or this…. Very few do it.’ (Henri Cartier-Bresson, ‘L’amour tout court’, 2001)

I do a lot of nature photography and the ‘justification’ I often read from other photographers is environmental preservation. I think it’s fashionable to say, but how many are really creating according to that idea. Is it not recording of an (rare) animal and behaviour, or the discovery of exceptional places, in various lighting situations? For me being in nature is more an escape from everyday life. I feel freedom during my shoots in nature.

‘I always feel like I’m a prisoner on the run.’ (Henri Cartier-Bresson, ‘L’amour tout court’, 2001)

I have to be on the move and discover: viewpoints, animals and animal behaviour. It’s about the hunt for new experiences.

‘It’s always luck. It’s luck that matters. You have to be receptive that’s all.

Like the relationship between things, it’s a matter of chance, that’s all. If you want it, you get nothing. Just be receptive and it happens.’

(Henri Cartier-Bresson, ‘L’amour tout court’, 2001)

I treat every shoot as an expirement. If I go out to make good pictures I come home with little.

According to Henri learning to look is just about doing it and it’s important to love. In the case of Henri I think he meant people, cities and streetlife, In my case it’s my feeling of freedom. I get that by being in nature and by traveling. Henri doesn’t like to travel, but he likes to be in another country and observe. I also observe. I observe people, but I don’t intrude. I usually don’t get my camera out to steel a moment. It’s an objection I have to overcome if I ever want to do serious street photography. I don’t like if people take candid pictures of me, so I usually don’t create them of others.

‘It happens in less than a fraction of a second. You must feel it intuitively. Sensitivity, Intuition, A sense of geometry. Nothing else.’ (Henri Cartier-Bresson, ‘L’amour tout court’, 2001)

When I go out and make a good picture I feel it’s good the moment I make it. Of course I still make my technical mistakes. I think the main components of a picture are form, balance and light. Geometry is balancing the form. With different light I aim for different forms and balance.

‘I go for form more than for light. Form comes first. Light is like a perfume to me.’ (Henri Cartier-Bresson, ‘L’amour tout court’, 2001)

I see a lot of similarities in the life philosophies of Henri and mine. I have to read more about him.

‘What is important is what is next. Erase the past.’

‘What about the future?’

Question yourself. It’s essential’ (Henri Cartier-Bresson, ‘L’amour tout court’, 2001)


Henri Cartier-Bresson L’amour tout court Part 1-5 (2001) At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6l09YEeEpI&index=1&list=PL707C8F898605E0BF (Accessed on 28 April 2017)