Monthly Archives: February 2015

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier Bresson on photography

“Sometimes it happens that you stall, delay, wait for something to happen. Sometimes you have the feeling that here are all the makings of a picture— except for just one thing that seems to be missing. But what one thing? Perhaps someone suddenly walks into your range of view. You follow his progress through the viewfinder. You wait and wait, and then finally you press the button— and you depart with the feeling (though you don’t know why) that you’ve really got something.”

“Later, to substantiate this, you take a print of this picture, trace on it the geometric figures which come up under analysis, and you’ll observe that, if the shutter was released at the decisive moment, you have instinctively fixed a geometric pattern without which the photograph would have been both formless and lifeless.”

“Composition must be one of our constant preoccupations, but at the moment of shooting it can stem only from our intuition, for we are out to capture the fugitive moment, and all the interrelationships involved are on the move. In applying the Golden Rule, the only pair of compasses at the photographer’s disposal is his own pair of eyes. Any geometrical analysis, any reducing of the picture to a schema, can be done only (because of its very nature) after the photograph has been taken, developed, and printed— and then it can be used only for a post-mortem examination of the picture. I hope we will never see the day when photo shops sell little schema grills to clamp onto our viewfinders; and that the Golden Rule will never be found etched on our ground glass.”

“If you start cutting or cropping a good photograph, it means death to the geometrically correct interplay of proportions. Besides, it very rarely happens that a photograph which was feebly composed can be saved by reconstruction of its composition under the darkroom’s enlarger; the integrity of vision is no longer there. There is a lot of talk about camera angles; but the only valid angles in existence are the angles of the geometry of composition and not the ones fabricated by the photographer who falls flat on his stomach or performs other antics to procure his effects.”

“For me, content cannot be separated from form. By form, I mean a rigorous organization of the interplay of surfaces, lines, and values. It is in this organization alone that our conceptions and emotions become concrete and communicable. In photography, visual organization can stem only from a developed instinct.”

“Though it is difficult to foresee exactly how color photography is going to grow in photo-reporting, it seems certain that it requires a new attitude of mind, an approach different than that which is appropriate for black and white. Personally, I am half afraid that this complex new element may tend to prejudice the achievement of the life and movement which is often caught by black and white.”

“Technique is important only insofar as you must master it in order to communicate what you see. Your own personal technique has to be created and adapted solely in order to make your vision effective on film. But only the results count, and the conclusive evidence is the finished photographic print; otherwise there would be no end to the number of tales photographers would tell about pictures which they ever-so-nearly got— but which are merely a memory in the eye of the nostalgia.”

“It is enough if a photographer feels at ease with his camera, and if it is appropriate to the job which he wants it to do. The actual handling of the camera, its stops, its exposure-speeds and all the rest of it, are things which should be as automatic as the changing of gears in an automobile. It is no part of my business to go into the details or refinements of any of these operations, even the most complicated ones, for they are all set forth with military precision in the manuals which the manufacturers provide along with the camera and the nice, orange calf-skin case. If the camera is a beautiful gadget, we should progress beyond that stage at least in conversation. The same applies to the how’s and whys of making pretty prints in the darkroom.”

“ We photographers, in the course of taking pictures, inevitably make a judgment on what we see, and that implies a great responsibility.”

“There are other ways of communicating our photographs than through publication in magazines. Exhibitions, for instance; and the book form, which is almost a form of permanent exhibition.”

“I believe that, through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us which can mould us, but which can also be affected by us. A balance must be established between these two worlds— the one inside us and the one outside us. As the result of a constant reciprocal process, both these worlds come to form a single one. And it is this world that we must communicate.”

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On Poetry

“Poetry can communicate the actual quality of experience with a subtlety and precision unapproachable by any other means.”

F R Lewis

“Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement.”

Chistopher Fry

“A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.”

Auden

“A poet can survive anything but a misprint.”

Oscar Wilde

“If Galileo had said in verse that the world moved, the Inquisition would have left him alone.”

Thomas Hardy

“A poet who reads his verse in public may have other nasty habits.”

Robert Heinlein

“If you put a poem aside, when you look at it again it tends to rewrite itself.”

Stephen Spender

“We rely upon the poets, the philosophers, and the playwrights to articulate what most of us can only feel, in joy or sorrow. They illuminate the thoughts for which we can only grope; they give us the strength and balm we cannot find in ourselves. Whenever I feel my courage wavering I rush to them. They give me the wisdom of acceptance, and the will and resilience to push on.”

Helen Hayes

“It is certain that no culture can flourish without narratives of transcendent origin and power.”

Neil Postman

“If your everyday life seems poor to you, do not accuse it, accuse yourself, tell yourself you are not poet enough to summon up its riches; since for the creator there is no poverty and no poor or unimportant place.”

Rilke

“The loss of childhood is the beginning of poetry.”

Andrei Tarkovski

“The poem hangs on the berry – bush

When comes the poet’s eye,

And the whole street is a masquerade

When Shakespeare passes by.”

Anon

“He was a poet and hated the approximate.”

Rilke

“The greatest thing a human soul does in this life is to see something

To see clearly is poetry, prophecy aand religion, all in one.”

Ruskin

Dr Martin Luther King Jnr

“How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

“We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant is right—”Truth, crushed to earth, will rise again.”

“ Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

We shall overcome because Carlyle is right—”No lie can live forever.”

Martin Luther King, Jr

Dr Martin Luther King Jnr

“ I must confess that I have enjoyed being on this mountaintop and I am tempted to want to stay here and retreat to a more quite and serene life. But something within reminds me that the valley calls me in spite of all its agonies, dangers, and frustrating moments. I must return to the valley. Something tells me that the ultimate test of a man is not where he stands in the moment of conflict and moment of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge and moments of controversy. So I must return to the valley – a valley filled with the misguided blood thirsty mobs, but a valley filled at the same time with the little Negro boys and girls who grow up with the ominous clouds of inferiority forming in their little mental skies; a valley filled with millions of people who because of economic deprivation and social isolation, have lost hope, and see life as a long and, desolate corridor with no exit sign. I must return to the valley – a valley filled with literally thousands of Negroes in Alabama and Mississippi who are brutalized, intimidated, and sometimes killed when they seek to register and vote. I must return to the valley all over the South and in the big cities of the North -a valley filled with millions of our white and Negro brothers who are smoldering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society.”

Martin Luther King, Jr Jan 27th 1965

Jack Kornfield

“Spiritual life may seem complicated, but in essence it is not. We can find a clarity and simplicity even in the midst of this complex world when we discover that the quality of heart we bring to life is what matters most……..All spiritual teachings are in vain if we cannot love. Even the most exalted states and the most exceptional spiritual accomplishments are unimportant if we cannot be happy in the most basic and ordinary ways, if, with our hearts, we cannot touch one another and the life we have been given. What matters is how we live. This is why it is so difficult and so important to ask this question of ourselves: ‘ Am I living my path fully, do I live without regret ? ‘ so that we can say on whatever day is the end of our life: ‘ Yes, I have lived my path with heart.’  “

The Gateless Gate

It can happen to you

In a flashing moment something opens.

You are new all through.

You see the same un-same world with fresh eyes.

This universe – renewing power comes by grace, not logic,

Whatever you do or whatever you are seems to make little difference.

It doesn’t make sense. It makes YOU.

Zen Flesh, Zen Bones

 

 

The Cracked Pot

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. ” I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.”

 “Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?”

“I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,”  the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure. The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”