Bewildered by Berger? Stumped by Sontag? We read the essential photography theory so you don’t have to. Putting this simply here is a digest of the writings on photography by the great photography writers as seen in The Telegraph Here is an example of what is on offer to give the chance to work out if you want to delve further
“The decisive moment”, an idea that has defined street photography and photojournalism as we know it, was first outlined in the preface to a book of photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson. The essay starts with Cartier-Bresson charting his life so far as a photographer – from messing around with a Box Brownie as a child to co-founding Magnum Photos – before talking through his approach to photography.
According to Cartier-Bresson, there is an almost magical split-second in which events in the world – interactions between people, movement, light and form – combine in perfect visual harmony. Once it passes, it is gone forever. To capture such moments as a photographer you must be inconspicuous, nimble and attentive; working on instinct; responding to reality and never trying to manipulate it.
Composition cannot be planned, nor can it be added in afterwards. Cropping will invariably make a good shot worse and is unlikely to make a bad shot better. Camera settings shouldn’t be something the photographer even thinks about – taking a photograph should be like changing gears in a car.
In his own words:
“We photographers deal in things that are constantly vanishing, and when they have vanished, there is no contrivance on earth which can bring them back again.”
“Composition must be one of our constant preoccupations, but at the moment of shooting it can stem only from our intuition, for we are out to capture the fugitive moment, and all the interrelationships involved are on the move.”
“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organisation of forms which give that event its proper expression.”
How to sound as if you’ve read it:
Be ready and reactive. Don’t get hung up on kit and, most importantly, keep it real.
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