All of it or decisive moment?

Henri Cartier-Bresson is the first true love of any photographer. Full stop.

But let me tell you a little story…

Recently, I’ve tried to switch from landscape‘s and architecture‘s photography to people‘s photography. And I have to admit: it’s fucking hard!

It’s hard because people aren’t motionless. They move a lot and they move fast. They have feelings (which are good to be spotted and captured in a picture), but most of the time they are shy and reserved.

So I’ve found that it’s not easy to stay in front of them for more than five seconds trying to find the right angle, the right background, the right amount of light you need for the shot, because simply they won’t let you do it.

You can ask to take a picture of them, true. But you can do it with just a couple of them or a small group at most.

Moreover, that’s not street photography, I thought. That’s something else. Call it portrait photography, close up shots or whatever, but it’s not the pure street photography.

But what is street photography then, I asked myself?

Well, street photography is dirtyelusivestolen, I’ve thought at first, and I’ve immediately thought about Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Since I’ve approached photography I was keen on Henri Cartier-Bresson’s decisive moment aestethics, which is good. It’s impossible not to like it. It’s poetry, it’s the essence of the life flowing.

 

A clear example of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s decisive moment.

 

But are we sure that we want to read poetry all the time, I asked then?

What about the newspaper, for example? Or comics, or all that kind of stuffs that we read and enjoy even if they are not the best quality reading?

I was missing something there, and I started to wonder around.

That’s how I encountered Joel Meyerowitz.

Joel Meyerowitz is an American photographer who left his daily job at the beginning of the 60s to dedicate his entire life to photography (how courageous!).

He’s best known for having been one of the first users of colour film and for his works on the streets of New York.

A loyal follower of the Henri Cartier Bresson’s decisive moment at first, he then had a little switch on his later works where he tried to incorporate a broader vision of the streets.

It’s not easy to spot this little shift, so in the following pictures I’ll ask you to focus on some details: look at how he looks for gimmicks, irony and has a close view of the situation in the first picture, opposed to a wider, more relaxed and overall view of the second picture.

 

Everything revolves around the lady’s gloves and the pattern between shadows and the tridimensional background in this picture.

 

There’s not a fixed subject in this photo. Joel is just trying to back off a little bit and show the city as it is, in a more impersonal way.

 

Eventually, I’ll report a thought of Joel – found in this little book – which explains what he was trying to do here.

<<During this period, I was trying to make photographs about the ‘all of it’; pictures without a central subject. I wanted all the information, near and far, to hold our interest equally, and I wanted colour to be an intricate part of the content. I was trying to unlock photography from the aesthetic of the decisive moment – a difficult thing to give up>>.

And he is right, giving up the decisive moment’s aesthetic is hard, but there’s something big out of that world. A slow world, an every-day world, ready to be caught.

I’ve tried this approach as well with this three pictures’ series which I’ve called “London, all of it” as a tribute to my inspirator.

Hope you’ll like them!