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My Favorite Quotes: Henri Cartier-Bresson

Use the edges of your frame as a compositional tool.

Use the edges of your frame as a compositional tool.

I’ll occasionally pick up one of my many photo books, take it over to the couch in my studio and look at the pictures while reading the text once again. One of my favorite photographers is Henri Cartier-Bresson…the father of “The Decisive Moment”. I love reading what he had to say about his  approach to photography. From talking indirectly about the “Figure-Ground” principle in Gestalt  to waiting for the right picture, to timing, and a hundred others thoughts to numerous to mention in one post.

The one thought that he talked about as much or more than others was about cropping your photos. here’s his quote:

“If you start cutting or cropping a good photograph, it means death to the geometrically correct interplay of proportions. Besides, it very rarely happens that a photograph which was feebly composed can be saved by reconstruction of its composition under the darkroom’s enlarger; the integrity of vision is no longer there.” I think the part about the geometrically correct interplay might be a touch above my pay grade, I absolutely believe that the integrity of vision is no longer there.

In my online class with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops, I want my students and fellow photographers to crop only in the camera. By cropping in the camera, you’ll always be aware of where the edges of your frame are. One of the best suggestions I can make is to use those edges as a compositional tools. A good example would be to use one or two of the edges simultaneously orvjust one to create one of the sides of a shape. Since Shape is a basic element of visual design, it’s important to use shapes to help create stronger images. one or two edges can complete a triangle, square, rectangle, or any irregular shape such as a diamond or trapezoid; These have the most energy of all the shapes.

When you crop too much in the computer, it’s so easy to become lazy even lethargic. It’s that “I’ll just crop it later” syndrome that the digital age has brought upon us, reminiscent of some European plague… Yikes!!! A loose approach to framing your idea in the viewfinder can and will be an impediment leading to the obstruction of your photographic vision.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com and check out my 2014 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me in Maine July 27th and in Jerusalem September 17th.

Don’t forget to send me a question and photo to: AskJoeB@gmail.com.


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