Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/12/02

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Re: sneak thief photographers!
From: Oddmund Garvik <>
Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 15:56:21 +0100 (MET)

George Huczek wrote:

>That was a technique HCB used.  He just hung out, waiting for the subject
>to enter the photo.  He had the picture figured out before it was taken.
>All of the essential elements were put into place first, waiting for the
>subject to come and finish it off, adding the important human dimension.

If you don't bother having several lenses, if you keep and use one single lens 
with your M, or similar camera with framelines, you end up having the frame 
in your brain, and in your eyes. 

I always preferred the 50 mm in 24x36, and I have the frame etched 
into me. Most of my work is done with that lens. Strange enough I don't 
like the 50mm frame in the M3 so much. There are not enough space around it. 
If I should choose one lens and one camera, it would be the old M2 with any 
good 50mm lens. Preadjusted, and with a clear idea, nothing stops you! 
Unless you are clumsy, slow, or don't know what you want, or why you want 
it. The magic is an unpredictable, and uncontrollable dimension. It happened 
for HCB sometimes, it happens for you and me, sometimes.   

>He usually wore clothes which did not draw attention, and carried very
>little gear, so as not to be too noticeable.

This was/is simple common sense. Think about that all you guys having your 
cupboards full of lenses, cameras, and fancy equipment, dressing up with 
fancy hats and photo vests every time you "walk" you cameras. You don't need 
much to make great images. You can do it with any simple camera... why 
bother with camera bags and all the rest?

>Some examples that come to mind are (sorry, I can't remember the titles) 
>- a photo of a cyclist on the road.  He shot standing on the top of a
>stairway, with the railing framing the image nicely.  In an essay by John
>Swar.(sp?) (MoMA), he describes this as "setting the trap" and waiting for
>prey to take the bait.

The title is Hyeres, France, 1932.

>- a photo of a young child (I think in Spain perhaps), running through the
>street, right in the spot where the sun was creating a strongly lit area on
>the ground

There are several from 1932 in Sevilla, Spain.

>There is a photo of HCB I saw somewhere, showing him "hanging out" like
>this.  He was standing on a ledge, above the ground, just waiting for the
>human element to enter the picture.  

He don't like to be photographed - he is a shy guy. I once met him in a 
friend's exhibition in a Paris suburb. I knew he was shy, and didn't "shoot" 
him. When I bought my first Contax T2, in a shop (near HCB's home), the shop 
owner told me that "even HCB had bought one recently". That was not the 
reason why I bought it. I am a medium admirer of Cartier-Bresson, I like 
some of his work, and find some of it "average". This is normal. It's like 
that for everybody. Ubermenschen doesn't exist.