Henri Cartier-Bresson – The Mind’s eye

Cartier-Bresson, H. (2004) The Mind’s Eye: Writings on Photography and Photographers. (01 edition) (s.l.): Aperture.

I borrowed this from my local library. As the title says, it is a collection of essays on photography and photographers, and as is often the case with collections it is a bit hit and miss. Several are not really about photography rather than a reminder to keep an open mind when travelling in foreign countries. The pieces about other photographers are largely pen portraits of them as people rather than their work. Some pieces are no more than a paragraph, a few words that sometimes seem like they have been taken from a larger piece, or even a speech. As a result the whole feels rather too fragmented.

The best piece is “The Decisive Moment”, which is also the longest. The style is interesting in that he uses the first person plural tense, so that “we” are the ones who look at things a certain way, compose the shot, decide what is and isn’t important. The effect is very inclusive, and the way he describes the decisions involved in taking a photograph are the same for all of us. The difference is that the way we apply those decisions will depend on the individual photographer, on how we see the world, how we want to interpret a scene.

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