This moment is all there is

“Inside movement there is one moment at which the elements in motion are in balance. Photography must seize upon this moment and hold immobile the equilibrium of it.” Henri Cartier-Bresson

7 Lessons Learned at Photography #Exercise 19 October 2015

  1. People do not mind being photographed, they smile and wave and say something nice.
  2. Especially in the food market, people assume that I am a foreigner so they talk to me in Russian and in a very loud voice.
  3. Next time I am going to wear something worn-out. I need to kneel, sometimes lay down on the ground to get one million perspectives of the same object.
  4. Flowers, children, and cats naturally and gracefully arrange themselves according to the principles of harmony and order.
  5. The everyday life is incredibly interesting if you have a calm mind and really look at it. I never had a mind of that calmness for sure. Now I enjoy incredible moments just doing that, looking and seeing. Here and now. Stopping the unstoppable, the mind’s chatter, for huge stretches of time, half a day sometimes…
  6. Someone said, “Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer”. For me, photography is prayer because when I am thinking of taking the photo, I cannot have mixed attention. Half here, half somewhere else, lost in thoughts doesn’t work. I have to look and plan and wait patiently for the perfect moment, for that woman to pick up the pink bucket, for the blond girl to make that stretching gesture.
  7. Taking a photo means acting immediately, with full intelligence but without thinking. Reacting with eyes, brain, hands. Giving the mind no time to interfere or hesitate or judge, whatever. The action is complete, free of mind, free of fear (am I doing this right? maybe this is a mistake?). The resulting image can be bad, include all possible mistakes. This is OK, it can be improved. A matter of learning and trying again and again. But the joy of capturing the moment that will never repeat is mine.

Bonus: 2 more lessons

The photo I took but deleted: I learned that I have to limit myself and don’t be “too smart” or “evil-hearted”. I took a photo of a girl wearing impossibly high heels and the boys staring at her ironically, then I deleted it. I think empathy and gratefulness to people who give you trust in depicting their life should rule in all cases.

The photo I was too timid to take: I did not take a photo of a beggar sitting in the street. I felt that would be an insult maybe, picturing the conditions she was in. But what I wanted to take a picture of was not her state or clothes. It was how she fed the doves in the little square, something I have never done. (Always way too preoccupied for such a simple thing as birds in the square.) She found the time and inclination to do that — she was too lonely to be picky. Humbleness would be the caption to that image.

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