Cartier Bresson and the necessity of good timing

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
marcio_napoli Senior Member • Posts: 1,886

tbcass wrote:

marcio_napoli wrote:

I was reading just now the part where you discuss if he staged ("faked") the shots or not.

I know what responses I will get, very obvious from the thread already, but once again:

Why exactly staging a shot is so bad?

It's not bad at all and if Cartier-Bresson staged some of his photos it actually means that his skills go beyond street photography and he should be applauded for it. I only brought it up because some used the jumping man as an example of anticipation and quick thinking, skills he did demonstrate in many of his photos. To some people who worship C-B as some kind of god, it may feel like a slap in the face.

Hey Tom,

I think we agree here.

Really, even for street photography which should be candid, I don't see as a bad thing.

As you said, it demonstrates another layer of skill, it's another element in the composition.

Imagine he's shooting 2 men looking through a hole in a fence (not sure, it looks like he has a shot like that).

Situation A:

He was walking down the street someday, saw an interesting fence with a hole, then pre-visualized a shot there.

Then he proceeded to organize a shoot, where he'd bring 2 actors on another day, with wardrobe carefully selected, and posed then according his vision.

Situation B:

He'd pass by this scene happening in real time as it unfolded. Grabbed some shots, but staged a few elements.

He talked to the men, asked one to turn to the right, the other to curiosly look into the hole, while grabbing his hat with a free hand.

Then, he saw 2 children which were on bycicles down the street, asked them to pass by the shot running in high speed.

Situation C:

He just randomly passed by a fence with 2 men looking at a hole. Shot a couple of frames, and life carries on.

It just happened the scene was awesome with zero intervention anyway, and he registered it as it naturaly unfolded.

If you really ask me, I'd fine with all 3 scenarios, but to me, the one with least talent would be C.

It just happened by chance, no art direction required.

Situation A would be ok, but a little "cheating" as street photography, but in no way less talent requiring. It does require planning, skill, art direction, hard work and talent.

And situation B was the most appropriate both from a talent and street photography POV, and IMO to be honest, the most likely scenario for how a lot of these iconic street photography really took place (for real I mean).

Those masters probably talked to people and asked how they wanted the shot, to varying degrees of control and intervention.

I don't think this as bad in any shape or form.

It requires tons of skill one way or another.

Let's all go all with the mind set of staging shots on the streets.

Let's see how many of us comes back home with HCB's level of portfolio.

Staging is by itself an art form. Not bad at all.

Best regards,

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Marcio Napoli _ fashion photographer . indie filmmaker
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