This week’s photos are dedicated to Henri Cartier-Bresson, born 1908, who died last week.
C-B was one of the innovators and inventors of candid photography. Here’s one of the most succinct definitions of the form I’ve found:
Candid photography is photography stripped to the essentials. Rooted in the snapshot, candid photographs are simple and immediate. They require minimal equipment and a willingness to let technique play second fiddle to spontaneity.
The best candid photography shows the medium in its purest terms: an instant of poignant life snatched from oblivion by that magical machine, the camera. No other visual art can lay claim to the reality, the moment in time, the pleasant surprise of a candid photograph. You may catch a person in an awkward position; an unaccustomed slice of life may lie between your frame lines—but this is what it is all about.
(Source: Robert Winkler)
This is, of course, the type of photography all my Scream pics are. Not that they’re anywhere near the quality of C-B’s work but my intent is the same: I’m just trying to document passing moments, things/places/people who will change and never be exactly the same again. I love looking at pictures of nightclubs from the 1930s and ’40s, just seeing the fashions and interactions between those kids. In the future, I know I’ll look at my Scream pics and smile at the way people dressed / danced in the Noughties. Look at all those tattoos! Look at those piercings! What bands are on peeps t-shirts? And, if we don’t all get blown to blazes in the interval, the people in the photos will be able to look back on their elegantly wasted youth. That’s the thing with candid pics, they never seem that important at the time because of their sheer ordinariness. I wish I’d kept some of my crappy schoool group photos.
Back to Screamadelica… after a particularly wild night, we ended up staying up till dawn and having a fabulous breakfast courtesy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The sun was just breaking over the marketplace as we walked through and I was so glad I had my little Sony camera on me to capture it. Perhaps I should carry my SLR everywhere but it’s difficult to fit in my pocket while I’m dancing. So, I figure it’s better to get a technologically inferior picture of an important (to me) moment than no picture at all. It’s the moment that’s crucial, not the gear or artistic brilliance. Cartier-Bresson called this the decisive moment. Which is:
the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organization of forms which gives that event its proper expression… In photography, the smallest thing can be a great subject. The little human detail can become a leitmotif.
That’s what I want to remember, the little human details.