Decisive Moments & Biographical Moments

I have been posting to the SARAI Reader-List thoughts that have occurred to me about photography during the process of making the cinema hall project. I have selected some of these thoughts and posted them below in the hope that it will encourage some sort of dialog about the making and viewing of images.

Photographing, for me, is both an analytical and an emotional activity. I tend to think of my work as visual research; and when I am photographing I am collecting visual data. In my current projects I have certain concerns, questions and ideas that I am trying to communicate that do not require me to shoot "decisive moments" at tiny fractions of a second. John Berger wrote about this in his essay on photographer Paul Strand,where he compares Strand's style to that of the Frenchman Henri Cartier-Bresson:

"One could say that it was the antithesis to Henri-Cartier Bresson's.
The photographic moment for Cartier-Bresson is an instant, a fraction
of a second, and he stalks that instant as though it were a wild
animal. The photographic moment for Strand is a biographical or
historic moment, whose duration is ideally measured not by seconds but
by its relation to a lifetime. Strand does not pursue an instant, but
encourages a moment to arise as one might encourage a story be told."

Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare, © Henri Cartier-Bresson 1932

The Family, Luzzara, Italy © Paul Strand 1953

I have recently begun another project looking at the built landscape in India. For this project, I have been using a 4x5 inch view camera, which has slowed down the process of making pictures. I will share some images from this project in a later post.

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