Friday, November 26, 2010
When the hunter does the cooking
"Behind the Gare St. Lazar," Henri Cartier-Bresson, All rights reserved
The great Henri Cartier-Bresson, apparently as good at concocting bon mots as making pictures, once famously remarked : "I'm a hunter, not a cook." In other words, 'I shoot 'em, somebody else takes care of the rest.'
I've always wondered about this remark. OK, let's say Cartier-Bresson gives the film to an experienced lab person to process & make contact sheets. C-B marks a few frames, then turns the contacts over to editors who know good work as well as what they need for their stories. A skilled printer takes care of enlargements, which are then sized, cropped & laid out by designers. C-B gives his blessing & takes another sip of his excellent wine. Voila!
For me, shooting is always about chasing Cartier-Bresson's "decisive moment." My pictures never do more than approximate what I envision. (That's why I keep shooting.)
It's only the decisions that come after shooting (the cooking) for which I am able to feel truly responsible. Those decisions -- hundreds of them -- are completely in my control.
Right now I'm at work selecting & presenting a set of my pictures for a contest. It's a form of self-torture. Issues of self-esteem arise (maybe I should say self-hatred). Deep-seated fears of inadequacy threaten to paralyze. Despite my best efforts, my fears morph into fantasies of bias & corruption on the part of the judges & a kind of childish anger that there is no perfectly realized picture, no perfect justice.
I wish I could be just a hunter.