Henri Cartier-Bresson (HCB) needs to have a prominent place in this workbook. So I moved him in as a second chapter.
Maybe trigger is the right word to use too.
All who take an interest in street photography should start with HCB.
Even if he never wrote much, there are mountains full of useful information hidden in his photograph.
It just so happened, a couple of years ago, that I decided to take this whole area seriously even from a theoretical point of view. I made the decision to emerge on a content analysis of HCB’s photographs to see if I could lure some hidden truths out of them.
What you don’t know it that I actually did content analysis of photographs and other visuals, as a profession. It was that type of work that got me my very first steady job with one of the largest companies in Denmark. The incumbent PTT.
I figured HCB’s photographs would be pure pleasure.
Everything was made ready and I started. Picture for picture I made marks in a scheme that I had made for the occasion.
The first portfolio of images I got from: Henri Cartier-Bresson: man, image, world. A retrospective. Thames & Hudson, London. Paperback edition from 2006 with 600 photographs to analyse. One of the many books about HCB that I had acquired in recent years.
I soon discovered that the task was huge. I reconsidered and parked the project.
After thoughts I did not see what I needed this kind of academic proof for. Nobody listens anyway, so I had either to do this for my own enjoyment or not at all.
I reminded myself that I was here for the pleasure and for photography. Did I really need this kind of dreary work that maybe some future day could be summarized in a table with clever percentages added to it?
I had to say no. I did not need that.
But I did enough research to discover that certain stylistic themes were reoccurring in HCB’s photographs: two of a kind, common fate, closure, et cetera. It was all there if you looks close enough.
I checked against other street photographers to see if this was a common trend.
Indeed it was.
I bought the book: Willy Ronis by Taschen (2013) and found that already on the front page, a two of a kind (Factor of Similarity) photograph was staring me in the face.
The rest of the book is one long confirmation that I was at the right end.
I checked on others: Robert Frank in his The Americans by Stiedl (2008) confirmed as well. So did plenty of others I randomly checked and still are checking.
Seemed to me that the ship was in the water and with good wind I could reach the other side.
So that is what I will try to do. Reaching the other side of this voyage. Looking for new and fertile ground.
The workbook New Street Agenda may not be the last words said, but I am determined to make it a beginning.
As you read this, it already is.
© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved.
This is a draft chapter to the workbook New Street Agenda. There is a workshop connected to it: New Street Agenda, Berlin June 12 – 15, 2014. If you are interested, please ask for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact form below.
Good luck with it.
This post is in category New Street Agenda.