17 June 2019
Click onto image to enlarge. Let me know your response to this photomontage. Prints are available upon request.
“It is by economy of means that one arrives of simplicity of expression.” Henri Cartier-Breslin
French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson’s art was defined by his humanist philosophy. An ardent practitioner of black-and-white photojournalism he considered himself “a visual man.” He said: “I watch, watch, watch. I understand things through my eyes (Life, 15 March 1963).” And so this week as I was prancing around my gardens, I was contemplating Cartier-Bresson’s thoughts about how he expressed his artistic vision as “the decisive moment.” His work was the result of the point where the universe conspires to create a unique time when visual forces align and coalesce.
At first I was going to have a diatribe with myself about how technology historically did not allow the instantaneous capture of an image; when one pushed the shutter button, there was a delay. It took until the twenty-first century to bring that true “decisive moment”
closer to reality. Of course, that catchy phrase means so much more than it appears to mean. Because even in that instant of discovery Cartier-Bresson made choices about light and composition and …
What the iconic Cartier-Bresson was espousing was not necessarily replication, but the intuitive gesturing of a scene. That moment when you recognize a slice of reality, which ironically is a surrealist idea, and you must still it. The subconscious is accelerated.
His realization that intuition was a key to creativity and the artistic process resonates loudly with me. And this week as my lush garden continues to evolve, an internal dialogue kept speaking about chance and improvisation as my own approach to the creative process: whether it’s my gardens, living space, photography, or, well, my life.
My mixture of tamed and untamed is bound by intuition and experience and knowledge. But it is also a mixture of the joyful and the serious; it takes commitment, a concentration of effort and work to discover that unique sighting, that essence that grabs one’s full attention to recreate a visual narrative.
Cartier-Bresson has been an influence and no matter how many times I read his words and view his photographs, I am caught in the still of his captured “decisive moments.”