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Thread: HCB Quotes

  1. #31
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BetterSense View Post
    I think HCB was a master of BS.

    The "decisive moment" thing is cute, but we all know he really just went out and shot thousands of frames and edited them. He came up with some very nice photographs, and that, along with the thick layer of 'decisive moment' BS, is why he is famous.

    The earlier quote by Vahn, instead of inspiring me, really just makes me laugh.


    lol
    À chacun son goût.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  2. #32
    Trask's Avatar
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    Cliveh wrote:

    I think HCB was a master of BS.

    The "decisive moment" thing is cute, but we all know he really just went out and shot thousands of frames and edited them. He came up with some very nice photographs, and that, along with the thick layer of 'decisive moment' BS, is why he is famous.


    I feel sorry for you, cliveh -- truly, because your words smack of someone who cannot do belittling someone who can.

    I believe HCB was about as sincere a photographer as you could hope for. His initial and life-long fascination was with drawing and artistic expression, where the drawing allowed him to create a complete image from what he might consider an ideal perspective. This led him to be very interested in trying to capture his images in a manner where the general arrangement of elements in the picture draws attention to the aspects of the photo he felt most important. The decisive moment arose when he tried to express how the photographer should seek to be in the optimum location in relation to the subject to create a unified image. Much of his shooting prior to the mid-50's was with a screwmount hand-wind Leica, so he wasn't running around with a motor drive blasting hundreds of images. If he was lucky, he might get off four or five, each altering as the elements within the frame moved. He would choose only those that met his criteria.

    Maybe it makes you feel better to announce for our hoped-for approbation that a great photographer was a scam artist; I hope at some point in your life your can adopt a more balanced point of view and come to admit that not everything is dross.

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by cliveh View Post
    Aren't you mixing up staged photography with unstaged and we presume HCB's was all unstaged, thus coordinated and not manipulated. Or are we starting to split more hairs.
    No. Because as photographers, we stage everything with our choices.

    When we set to take a picture we are dealing with a panorama of things to include. We pick and choose what stays in the frame. On a great photograph every element is where it should be because we edited it with our choices.

    It doesn't matter if it's a still life, a portrait or a street shot. We, with the thousands of choices we had to place in that frame, we organized it to be there.

    Granted not everything is a masterpiece, but good, bad or great, we organized it into the frame.

    Some will say, yeah but sometimes its just luck. True, but the better we get, the luckier we are. That's because our unconscious is helping set the elements in place before we decide if the shot is worth taking.
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

  4. #34
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    As for the "decisive moment", I've seem lots of great photographers miss the moment. Often by tenths of seconds.

    I've seen portrait photographers that missed the magic in a smile because they got it after it peaked. It was on the downside. The sparkle
    left the eyes. Tenth or maybe hundred of a second, but they missed it.

    I would bet in street photography having the second sense of when the magic will occur is a practiced thing as well as a innate thing. HCB obviously had it.

    For two years I worked as a bouncer in a bar. I could watch people and know exactly when to step in just before it got ugly. You can feel it. Body language, can tell you everything.

    I'd bet in street photography you develop a second sense on when something will happen and you just position yourself for that event, AS WELL as when the street itself and your location has good composition.
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

  5. #35
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blansky View Post
    No. Because as photographers, we stage everything with our choices.

    When we set to take a picture we are dealing with a panorama of things to include. We pick and choose what stays in the frame. On a great photograph every element is where it should be because we edited it with our choices.

    It doesn't matter if it's a still life, a portrait or a street shot. We, with the thousands of choices we had to place in that frame, we organized it to be there.

    Granted not everything is a masterpiece, but good, bad or great, we organized it into the frame.

    Some will say, yeah but sometimes its just luck. True, but the better we get, the luckier we are. That's because our unconscious is helping set the elements in place before we decide if the shot is worth taking.
    I think I'm running in circles with language here, and will stop nitpicking. But I must reemphasize that I don't think we stage anything, because we don't control what goes on in front of the camera. It happens as it happens whether we like it or not.
    Instead I was hoping we could call it anticipation, or acute awareness of when the elements in front of the lens HAVE BEEN arranged by whatever forces are present, and choose very wisely when and where to open the shutter. I'm sure that photographers like Cartier-Bresson develop a very strong sixth sense for this. Practice, awareness, a keen eye, and yes, sometimes luck, helps us identify those moments, AND react upon them appropriately.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  6. #36
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trask View Post
    Cliveh wrote:

    I think HCB was a master of BS.

    The "decisive moment" thing is cute, but we all know he really just went out and shot thousands of frames and edited them. He came up with some very nice photographs, and that, along with the thick layer of 'decisive moment' BS, is why he is famous.


    I feel sorry for you, cliveh -- truly, because your words smack of someone who cannot do belittling someone who can.

    I believe HCB was about as sincere a photographer as you could hope for. His initial and life-long fascination was with drawing and artistic expression, where the drawing allowed him to create a complete image from what he might consider an ideal perspective. This led him to be very interested in trying to capture his images in a manner where the general arrangement of elements in the picture draws attention to the aspects of the photo he felt most important. The decisive moment arose when he tried to express how the photographer should seek to be in the optimum location in relation to the subject to create a unified image. Much of his shooting prior to the mid-50's was with a screwmount hand-wind Leica, so he wasn't running around with a motor drive blasting hundreds of images. If he was lucky, he might get off four or five, each altering as the elements within the frame moved. He would choose only those that met his criteria.

    Maybe it makes you feel better to announce for our hoped-for approbation that a great photographer was a scam artist; I hope at some point in your life your can adopt a more balanced point of view and come to admit that not everything is dross.
    It wasn't Clive who wrote that.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  7. #37
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blansky View Post
    Not to belabor the point, but don't you think coordinating the object in the frame IS arranging them somehow.

    Lets say you as a good photographer walked upon a scene you would do a better job, with lens choice, lighting and picking which things to include in the frame and how to show them ( depth of field, angle, contrast etc), than someone with no talent that just walks up and tries to take a picture of something.

    Isn't that what photography is all about. Isn't that why 10,000 Ansel wanna-bees keep looking for his tripod holes in Yosemite.

    How often do we get asked by amateurs to critique their work and we tell them, your composition is a bit off, the lens choice could have been better, you should have cropped more.

    Personally I think we do a lot of arranging and coordinating the objects in a picture.

    I coordinate peoples bodies in ways that shows them in more flattering ways. I choose what to include. I choose what to accentuate and what to hide. I choose how the background and foreground play into the portrait. I can't change their face but I can perfect it with light and angles.

    Anyway I think we do a lot of manipulating of the elements that are in front of us.
    I think we probably mean similar things, but get caught up in terminology. I claim you don't arrange anything, because in street photography everything is arranged for you, by ways of intentions of the people in the frame, and forces of nature. The distinction, in my mind, is that someone like HCB learned to recognize when all elements (or enough of them) were aligned such that it would make a compelling frame.
    The end result is likely the same, whatever we call it.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  8. #38
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blansky View Post
    As for the "decisive moment", I've seem lots of great photographers miss the moment. Often by tenths of seconds.

    I've seen portrait photographers that missed the magic in a smile because they got it after it peaked. It was on the downside. The sparkle
    left the eyes. Tenth or maybe hundred of a second, but they missed it.

    I would bet in street photography having the second sense of when the magic will occur is a practiced thing as well as a innate thing. HCB obviously had it.

    For two years I worked as a bouncer in a bar. I could watch people and know exactly when to step in just before it got ugly. You can feel it. Body language, can tell you everything.

    I'd bet in street photography you develop a second sense on when something will happen and you just position yourself for that event, AS WELL as when the street itself and your location has good composition.
    Nice post!

    Meanwhile, I'm immersed in thoughts of Philippe Halsman:

    It is more often the good psychologist rather than the good photographer who makes good portraits. It is the sitter’s mind that controls the portrait a photographer makes, not the photographer’s skills with his camera or with direction

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Burk View Post
    Nice post!

    Meanwhile, I'm immersed in thoughts of Philippe Halsman:

    It is more often the good psychologist rather than the good photographer who makes good portraits. It is the sitter’s mind that controls the portrait a photographer makes, not the photographer’s skills with his camera or with direction
    I think he's selling himself short, skill and direction-wise. Getting or coercing the subject into a certain frame of mind is definitely a great trait but looking at his work you see great craftsmanship there as well.

    One thing though that always has to be taken into account is the subject matter of the portrait photographer. Photographing famous people is a whole different animal. There is the built in rave factor when photographing someone famous. People will go, wow he's so good.

    Take for instance Karsh's Churchill. An absolute masterpiece. But if that had been a picture of his Uncle Bob, would you still rave about it. Or is it the fact that he's a famous person that makes you so impressed. You can see a lot of portraits of famous people that if you substitute someone unknown into the picture is it really so great. Obviously some are. Many are not. Hence the saying " if you want to be a famous photographer, take pictures of famous people".
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

  10. #40
    Trask's Avatar
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    APOLOGY: you will have seen above my post taking issue with some comments alleging that HCB was, essentially, a photographer of limited ability who used his "decisive moment" methodology as some sort of sales scam. I did, and still do, find those comments very inaccurate and unfair to HCB and his art.

    However, in my haste to post my own views, I badly erred by attributing those comments to "cliveh." I have no excuse for having done so, as I had only moments before noted that he had responded to the true poster with a short phrase in French. Had I taken an extra minute to double-check my draft post, I would have seen that BetterSense, not cliveh, was not the original poster (as Thomas subsequently pointed out).

    So I hereby apologize to cliveh for my having mistakenly taken him to task, when my comments should have been directed toward BetterSense.

    I've learned a lesson: don't let my emotions and desire to respond lead me to misdirect my remarks. Won't happen again.

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