The Magic Frame: Henri


I am reading a book now, called “The Mind’s Eye”, by Henri Cartier-Bresson. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest photographers in history. I am not sure if this is the book where he first coined the phrase, ‘The Decisive Moment’, but he certainly used it here.

However, I am going to mull briefly, on a different quote. However, I will mull only very briefly, because I think that it is deep enough for all of you to think about deeply on your own!

Here goes

My passion has never been for photography “in itself”, but for the possibility – through forgetting yourself – of recording in a fraction of a second the emotion of the subject, and the beauty of the form; that is, a geometry awakened by what’s offered.

The photographic shot is one of my sketchpads.

The one phrase I would like to start with, is ‘through forgetting yourself”.

These days, when I do read comments, or questions posted by many people, I find that it is very much around camera angles, camera bodies, f-stops, lighting diagrams and the like. This is not to say that these are not important. However, they are a means to an end, and not the end in itself. It is when you are ‘in the zone’ that you take your best photographs, and more often than not – we forget this.

It happens all the time. We are so busy, often, with our own inner noise, that we forget what we are doing. Let’s talk street photography, for a change.

I started to take my best shots when I switched from carrying a few lenses, to using just the lens that is on my body. No longer was I always fiddling around in my bag, changing lenses and losing touch with the moment

The other thing that helped me a lot, was when I started to make human contact with the people I photograph. While I still do adopt the ‘fugitive’ approach from time to time, it is much rarer now, than it used to be. It gives me greater joy, because I have also looked a person in the eye, and exchanged a smile.

It’s when the heart and mind meet, that great work starts to be created.

Your turn.


  1. I think some of your best shots are when you look into the heart of the matter, the stories that people tell through their aging faces, the beauty of the symmetry of structures and the like.

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