On Dancing

Reportage photography is a very physical activity, and the process of hunting for images often involves a kind of “dance.”. Meyerowitz watched both Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank work on different occasions. About the former he wrote, “It was astonishing. We stood back a few paces, and we watched him. He was a thrilling, balletic figure, moving in and out of the crowd, thrusting himself forward, pulling back, turning away. He was so full of a kind of mime quality. We learned instantaneously that it’s possible to efface yourself in the crowd, that you could turn over your shoulder like a bullfighter doing a paso doble.” And about Frank: “I think what moved me more than anything else was the fact that he was in motion while he was making still photographs. It seemed to me some kind of irony that you could flow and dance and keep alive, and at the same time chip things away and just cut them off. I liked the physicality of that.” Robert Doisneau even made apologies for it: “I’m a little ashamed of my illogical steps, my gesticulations. I take three steps to this side, four to that side, I come back, I leave again, I think, I come back, then all of a sudeen I get the hell out of the place, then I come back.”

“There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera.” He added that once missed, the opportunity was gone forever, a salutary reminder.”

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