Through the Lens with Henri

A Return to the Heart of Street Photography


Peter Pickering

4/24/20242 min read

In those days, la beauté of an image, it came from waiting, feeling the rhythm of life as it happened. Like a dance, oui, a silent conversation between us, the photographers, and those fleeting little slices of life. Recognising 'le moment décisif', that was the skill, that was the thrill.

But now, voilà, our streets are filled with the quiet click-click of digital, and we drown in a sea of images that, sometimes, they stray far from their vérité beginnings. Once, the grain of the film, the play of shadows, the whispers of light, they told us stories. Now, we often see a symphony of adjustments - a tweak here, a crop there.

Don't misunderstand, I am not against progress, non, non. Innovation, it has always danced with art. But in this race for digital perfection, let's not lose the âme of what we do. The imperfections, the grain, the happy accidents with light and shade that told the truest stories, now they sometimes fall to the side in our quest for a flawless image.

Photography, it is about capturing the world as it is, not just as we wish it to be, right? It's a witness to life's reality, with all its beauty and its quirks. The most touching photos, they're the ones that embrace this truth, that show life untouched, unaltered.

So I ask of you, mes chers amis, let's not forget the roots of our craft. Let’s not get so lost in the tools that we lose sight of what it's all about - capturing a moment in time. Let's put aside the heavy editing and find beauty in life’s natural scene once more.

At the end of it all, it’s not about the perfect image, but the story, the moment, the vérité that lives in that frame.

Let's head back to the streets, not just as photographers, but as storytellers, as witnesses to life’s rich tapestry. Let's capture the world not as we can change it, but as it truly is - flawed, unpredictable, and absolutely magnifique.

Imagine, mes amis, if we blend the new with the l'ancien, keeping the advances in technology but also holding onto the core of our métier. What a world of stories we could tell. Quel monde, indeed.

(Please note, this piece is crafted in the spirit of Henri Cartier-Bresson, capturing the essence of his perspective and style, though not directly quoting him.)

© Peter Pickering 2024.

Henri Cartier-Bresson
Henri Cartier-Bresson

Ah, mes amis, when I look back to the times, les rues were my studio, my camera, my pinceau. I am filled with a little sadness, you know. This digital world, with all its editing, retouching, it blurs the true spirit of our street photography. The art of seizing le moment décisif is a bit lost, n’est-ce pas?