November 27, 2012

Henri Didn't Crop

Henri Cartier-Bresson on cropping:

About cropping? Uh, I said in that forward, we have to have a feeling for the geometry of the relation of shapes, like in any plastic medium. And I think that you place yourself in time, we’re dealing with time, and with space. Just like you pick a right moment in an expression, you pick your right spot, also. I will get closer, or further, there’s an emphasis on the subject, and if the relations, the interplay of lines is correct, well, it is there. If it’s not correct it’s not by cropping in the darkroom and making all sorts of tricks that you improve it. If a picture is mediocre, well it remains mediocre. The thing is done, once for all.

I love Cartier-Bresson's work. Hugely inspirational. But, I fundamentally disagree. The world is not fitted to a certain aspect ratio. I don't crop a lot of my images but I do consciously choose what I believe to be the strongest composition (where the interplay of lines and forms feel strongest). And I recognize that the aspect ratio and angle of view of my lens may provide too much coverage from my chosen near/far perspective. But I would never compromise near/far perspective to fill the frame. So, when I print, I simply crop to remove any extra coverage I didn't want in the image to begin with. In my mind, that's not a trick. That's craft applied.

Read the full article translated from a 1958 interview — it's great.


I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life - and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.

Georgia O'Keeffe