I've always loved the photos of Henri Cartier-Bresson. What's not to like, they have an amazing ease and sense of balance. Did he create or discover his decisive moments? Like all masters, he makes the nearly impossible look easy.
Still, I was happily surprised by this short introduction he wrote in his own book: The Mind's Eye
(Aperture). Without further ado...
Photography has not changed in it's origin except in its technical aspects, which for me are not a major concern.
Photography appears to be an easy activity; in fact it is a varied and ambiguous process in which the only common denominator among its practitioners is their instrument. What emerges from this recording machine does not escape the economic constraints of a world of waste, of tensions that become increasingly intense, and of insane ecological consequences.
"Manufactured" or staged photography does not concern me. And if I make a judgement it can only be on a psychological or sociological level. There are those who take photographs arranged beforehand and those who go out to discover the image and seize it. For me the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously. In order to "give a meaning" to the world, one has to feel oneself involved in what one frames through the viewfinder. This attitude requires concentration, a discipline of mind, sensitivity, and a sense of geometry - it is by great economy of means that one arrives at simplicity of expression. One must always take photographs with the greatest respect for the subject and for oneself. To take photographs is to hold one's breath when all facilities converge in the face of fleeting reality. It is at that moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.
To take photographs means to recognize - simultaneously and within a fraction of a second - both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning. It is putting one's head, one's eye, and one's heart on the same axis.
As far as I am concerned, taking photographs is a means of understanding which cannot be separated from other means of visual expression. It is a way of shouting, of freeing oneself, not of proving or asserting one's originality. It is a way of life.
Anarchy is an ethic.
Buddhism is neither a religion nor a philosophy, but a medium that consists in controlling the spirit in order to attain harmony and, through compassion, to offer it to others.
- Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1976