photokaboom

Learn Photography

PATH >

Getting Started >

2 - What's a Way-of-working?

What's a way-of-working?

The big answer encompasses the entirety of PATH.

To get started, though, let's limit the answer to a short period of time.

Let's compare what's going on when two photographers, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Ansel Adams, press the shutter release.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

At the moment that Henri Cartier-Bresson pressed the shutter release on his Leica, he was a part of a decisive moment.

Cartier-Bresson experienced the moment as a "sensual pleasure," as a "yes, yes, yes."1

And part of the sensuality was wonderment of a beautiful geometry that had come into being for just a moment.

The simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.2

Ansel Adams

So, for Cartier-Bresson, when he pressed the shutter release, the experience was most important.

In contrast, when Ansel Adams pressed the shutter release on his view camera, he was creating a photograph that he had pre-visualized.

My basic approach to photography depends on the visualization of the final print before the exposure is made.

It is not only a matter of seeing it in the mind's eye, but it's also and primarily a matter of feeling it — feeling the various qualities that you wish to obtain in the final print. The shutter is opened and then the negative is developed.

The negative can now be compared to a musical score. It's ready for its performance — the print. If the negative is properly composed, technically and aesthetically, it can be performed so as to recreate the original visualized intention. So that finally I can say that I visualize the essence of the photograph to be.3

Cartier-Bresson's shutter-release moment was his presence at that moment.

For Ansel Adams, it was the photographic print that he would later produce.

Neither photographer's way-of-working is better than the other.

The best way-of-working is the one that suits you and your project.

1 Cartier-Bresson, H. (Interviewed). (1972). The decisive moment [Narrated slide show]. New York: Scholastic Achievement Series.

2 Cartier-Bresson, H. (1952). The decisive moment (Images à la sauvette). New York: Simon & Schuster.

3 Adams, A. (1943). A personal credo. The American Annual of Photography 1944, 58, pp. 7-16. Reprinted in Newhall, B. (1980). Photography: Essays & images. New York: Museum of Modern Art.