Street Photography - Clichés only?

Started Aug 3, 2014 | Discussions thread
jafleming3 Contributing Member • Posts: 560
Re: HCB contacts. The myth of the decisive moment.

letx wrote:

RoelHendrickx wrote:

jafleming3 and letx wrote:

Even a master like HCB produced his share of cliches initially!

which ones?

Look at his contact sheets, early work... He didn't start out producing gems - no one does!

HCB is famous for NOT keeping his contact sheets.

In the marvelous Magnum Book "Contacts Sheets", there are only collages of his work.

HCB selected and edited drastically.

I have always felt that he did this not only to avoid too much archives, but also to support his own myth as the man of "the decisive moment". Extensive contact sheets would prove that the decisive moments may be the ones that are carefully selected from larger series or sequences.

But that does not make him a lesser photographer: in fact, it is part of our art and craft to recognize the great shots from the vast amounts of OK or mediocre ones.

Great, really highly original shots are not often the product of divine inspiration. Very often they are the end result of a long journey that started with cliché. I am sure HCB shot his fair share of cliché images, only they have not been preserved and are thus harder to pinpoint.

It should be obvious that when I asked which ones. It was a typical internet thing to say and I see it has a supporter as well. The internet is crazy. You two are on notice for fictionalizing fact.

Roel, you are of course right and known to anyone that could be bothered.

No one is fictionalizing anything! First, do you really believe that HCB's first photos were artwork? Second, his contact sheets (they do exist) showed how he worked the scene and he selected the best shot of the lot - so much for the decisive moment! I believe, that was Roel's point. If you want more than my say so, fine - read this and learn something:

http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2012/07/23/how-studying-contact-sheets-can-make-you-a-better-street-photographer/

BTW, this is not the first or only such analysis.  Other photographers have said the same thing.  I'm sure if you Google the topic, you'll get your share of original sources.

I am not denigrating HCB in the least.  He's my very favorite photographer and no other, IMHO, can come close to him.  My only point, if you bother to read it closely, is that there's nothing wrong with cliches.  Everyone makes mediocre photographs, even the best and the greatest.  If you think not, think again!

john

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