Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Impassioned Eye

The title comes from a documentary on Henri Cartier-Bresson which I recently watched again. I'm looking back at photographers I admire to see what I can learn from them or what may inspire me to help me move forward with my photography.

Bresson's work is well known and he is often considered one the best photographer of all time. Watching the documentary again, it was interesting what lessons I actually took from it.

We all know that, 'decisive moment' phrase and his images are testament to the joy of geometry, when everything seems right and balanced. He had a questioning stare. He could sense there was an image there - it was just a matter of looking and waiting.

There doesn't seem to be any real, deep messages in most of his images. They are celebrations of beauty of form and emotions. He saw, he felt and captured that moment as everything 'clicked' into place.

He also often shot was amused him. That simple - he looked, saw aspects of life that amused him and he captured these at just the right moment.

His images aside, what I was inspired by as much as, if not more by, was the way he lived and embraced life. He was clearly deeply moved by classical music. Drawing and painting was a real passion and something he continued to do all his life. He read poetry and most of his friends were artists. He had a huge respect for maths and mathematicians. He lived one day at a time, grateful for all the joy and pleasure that day brought. His fantastic portraits captured his love for his friends and his respect for their talent and work.

The lesson I took from the Bresson documentary is to engage with life - all aspects of life; to be curious, always looking and questioning. Make more room for science, literature, poetry, music, theatre, art, friends and family - probably at the expense of photography - to improve my creativity and perhaps my photography.

I've talked about this idea before - that if you want to improve your photography, then embrace life more. But watching Bresson was like some kind of reassuring proof for me.