HCB & the "Camera Dance"

I found this short movie about HCB in the library. It was made when he was about in his '80's or so, and had long ago stopped taking pictures and was pursuing his love of drawing.

The most remarkable thing in the film was footage of him actually working and taking pictures in the street. There is one sequence of him using a screw mount Leica. He is shown making a series of shots with the camera never leaving his eye and his hand darting up to turn the film advance knob! Very fast!

His insights into his work were interesting, the photography was not important, it was the "reportage", the "being there" that was so important to him. He made some B&W, documentary films during the Spanish Civil War, in the late '30's, and during the liberation of Paris. Some of these movies scenes were inter-cut with his famous stills of the same shots, so the movie scene dissolved into the still shot we have all seen.

He spoke about "Street Photography" being a dance, in one truly amazing sequence he was shown working on the street and moving fast to get ahead of his subject, at just the "Decisive Moment" he turned and pirouetted on one foot as he made the shot, a real "Camera Dance".

I enjoyed the movie and recommend it. It is always instructional to see one of the "Gods" at work......and play.

The movie was made by Sarah Moon. A review of the film from the New York Times is included below.

This documentary is a portrait of 20th century French photographer and filmmaker Henri Cartier-Bresson. Works by Cartier-Bresson are interspersed with discourse by the artist. He discusses his style, his interest in patterns in natural forms, and essence in portraits, as well as his love for drawing. In his still-photography and filmmaking, the immediacy of his imagery and its documentary flavor, he terms "reportage." Friends, colleagues, and art critics comment on the artist's life and works, adding insight and appreciation to one of the giants of photography. ~ Rose of Sharon Winter