Shoot a Little Less, Think a Little More
Henri Cartier-Bresson was my very first photography love. I loved everything about him and studied his work ferociously. When I was still a penniless photography student I spent an insane amount of money on one of his books.
He was the master of constraint and photographed the bigger part of his work with a 50mm lens. Cartier-Bresson introduced the term ‘The Decisive Moment’ in photography. He was also the co-founder of the famous photo agency Magnum.
“We must avoid, however, snapping away, shooting quickly and without thought, overloading ourselves with unnecessary images that clutter our memory and diminish the clarity of the whole.”
– Henri Cartier-Bresson
He died in 2004 when digital photography was already around but still in its infancy. I don’t think he could foresee how urgent and necessary his words would become in today’s world.
Since some time now I’m living in Lisbon and this beautiful city has become a tourist hotspot in the past couple of years. In summer the streets are flooded with visitors.
When I walk the streets myself observing my surroundings I’m overwhelmed by the number of people that are taking pictures. Everywhere I look I see smartphones and cameras ready to snap away. Do you know that worldwide 40.000 pictures are taken every second? That is an insane amount!
Don’t get me wrong I embrace the fact that everyone’s a photographer now. I think it’s a good thing.
But something happens inside me when I see the thoughtless snapping away from most people.
There’s no way around it, digital technology makes photography look like an easy thing to do. You push a button and you’re done. Digital cameras actually allow you to be snapping away.
But the fact that you can doesn’t mean you should.
Being able to photograph, to document, to record every little thing in life is a beautiful thing that should not be taken for granted.
When you think about it it is magical that we are able to document life like this. You know, it’s light falling on a sensor creating little worlds in 1/100 of a second. How amazing is that!
I love my craft. It’s the best in the world and I cannot see myself doing anything else. Whether it’s making photos, teaching others how to do it, or talking about it I simply love every little thing about it.
About the photos
I took these photos while I was the penniless student ferociously studying Henri Cartier-Bresson. They were taken in Paris and Greece.
I don’t wanna sound like an ‘everything was better in the past’ human because I don’t think that it was. However, when you’re shooting film it is more natural to shoot with intent than when you’re shooting digital. Because it’s expensive to shoot film and it requires a time investment to develop and print the photos. There’s the scarcity issue that made it natural and wise to put in some thought before you pressed the shutter.
Shoot with Intent
What happens inside me when I see the quick and thoughtless pictures getting taken is the silent holler of my photographer’s heart to think before we shoot. I can’t help myself. The wish that every photo is created with intention and thought is pervasive but I know it is not the reality.
Suddenly I get the urge to walk up to everybody that’s thoughtlessly snapping away to share my photography wisdom. To make them see what they’re about to capture and show them how to create a meaningful photo. I don’t of course. That would be really exhausting. And a little odd.
But what I can do is make my case right here in my own corner of the internet. In an attempt to bring meaning, thoughtfulness, and intent to your photographs. To tell you that the photograph is and should be a purposeful way to capture your world and express yourself.
And say to you that it’s better when you shoot with intent!
We cannot all be Cartier-Bresson. I get that but let’s stop the mindless snapping away. Observe and consider for a moment what you’re actually trying to capture. Put emotion into the act of creating photos. Let’s Make a picture instead of Taking it.
Infuse every click of the shutter with love, concentration, and attention. Shoot with intent and make every picture count. That is my wish for you.
Wanna read more about shooting with intent? Go to Are You Taking or Are You Making?
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