Assignment 4 | The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier-Bresson | Page 51
Mr Henri Cartier-Bresson proclaims that portraits are the most difficult thing for him due to the transparent nature of capturing somebody and trying to sum up them lives and personality through an image.
He likes to take pictures of people in their natural environment, walking into people’s homes and looking at them. Embodying an almost cat-like demeanour of tip toeing around without disturbing them in the slightest. He believes that people react differently when they feel they are not being studied. That is where you need to put your camera, metaphorically, between the skin of the person and his shirt.
Photography by Rhea Gupte
It took me two months to edit the pictures of Assignment 4 although I had photographed them right on time. The reason was a mixture of my perpetual self-criticism and the resultant lack of motivation. A pep talk with myself revealed that I had to get through this hurdle, if I was going to come anywhere close to finishing the remaining 302 assignments in this book. A goal I am very, very determined to achieve with my partner in crime, Jane.
The reason for the self criticism was that I agree with Mr. Henri Cartier-Bresson. Photographing people is difficult, especially when it’s in their environment. Where you are a stealthy guest, figuring out frames,
light, the mood and setting, impromptu. All the while being a comforting yet invisible presence. I’d much rather prepare a ten page story board, do a location recce twice and plan out every frame, than throw myself into a situation like this. That is a method I am used to. I find comfort in it and also drive better results simply because it is all so planned out.
But the point of doing this Pet Project was not to continue honing existing skills, but to throw myself head first into exactly these types of situations. Mr. Cartier-Bresson explains the difference between a snapshot and a portrait as the latter being conducted within the complete awareness of the subject. They know they are being photographed. This key difference, makes me a novice at this because most of the people I shoot on my travels are unaware of the lens thus giving me the comfort of being a silent observer with no pressure of producing, almost leaving the result to chance and quick reflexes.
Now that I have completed this assignment, I feel this is a genre I’d love to explore further. It is challenging and allows for wonderful conversation, helping me learn both as a photographer and a human being.
For this assignment, I enlisted the help of my friend Gayle who is a chef. I picked her because I wanted to capture somebody in the process of doing something they absolutely loved and enjoyed. Undoubtedly, Gayle is one of the best cooks I know. What makes her special to me is not that she can whip up a brilliant dish, but her passion for her craft and her attitude of making efforts to constantly improve it.
I photographed her while she was making strawberry ice-cream from scratch. The entire process took about an hour or so and I continued shooting throughout, partly to get as many pictures to choose from as possible, and partly because I cheekily wanted to have a taste. As true with all things Gayle makes, it was heavenly.
View Jane’s wonderful set for this assignment of photographing her baby Godchild, putting up a magic show for us.