Curse You Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson has a lot to answer for. Renowned for a photographic style that brilliantly balances meticulous composition with apparently split second timing, Bresson brought hundreds of iconic images into the photographic literature. Unfortunately, his style and artistic rhetoric (The Decisive Moment) became so influentional that it inspired legions of would be photojournalists to march into the streets on a desperate and largely futile search for their own decisive moments. Sadly, these armies of would-be auteurs do not understand two fundamental principles: most of your pictures are crap, and you have to know how to edit.

Before the interweb, the fact that there were thousands of crappy photographers toiling in their little darkrooms producing thousands of inconsequential wastes of emulsion didn’t really have any effect on our quality of life. But now, with digital cameras and easy web hosting, you can’t turn around without being hit in the head with collections of “street pictures” shot by people whose lack of talent as photographers is exceeded only by their lack of talent as editors of their own work.

Gazing upon these collections, you can only wonder what their creators see in the pictures, and why they can’t see past it to the truth: that the stuff is crap. Actually, not all of it is crap. There is one shining beacon of photographic talent stuck into this pile of otherwise craptastic creations. This is because Mr. Dixon actually knows a good picture when he sees it in the viewfinder and also has the sense to only show you the ones he got when he didn’t miss.

So, don’t let this happen to you. Don’t let me get my hands on your crappy, crooked, out of focus, underexposed and barely composed drek. Shoot a lot, learn how to edit out the bad ones, and don’t show them to me. If I only see your good ones, I’ll think you are a genius.