Steinbeck: Waiting and Reflecting

One of the great benefits of waiting for the impressions to sort themselves out. 

From Steinbeck, Travels With Charley

Go to the Ufizzi in Florence, the Louvre in Paris, and you are so crushed with the numbers, once the might of greatness, that you go away distressed, with a feeling like constipation. And then when you are alone and remembering, the canvases sort themselves out; some are eliminated by your taste or your limitations, but others stand up clear and clean. Then you can go back to look at one thing untroubled by the shouts of the multitude. After confusion I can go into the Prado in Madrid and pass unseeing the thousand pictures shouting for my attention and I can visit a friend—a not large Greco, San Pablo con un Libro. St. Paul has just closed his book. His finger marks the last page read and on his face are the wonder and will to understand after the book is closed. Maybe understanding is possible only after.

When To Push The Shutter

Henri Cartier-Bresson was asked, “Have you ever really been able to define for yourself when it is that you press the shutter?”

And he answered

It’s a question of concentration. Concentrate, think, watch, look and, ah, like this, you are ready. But you never know the culminative point of something. So you’re shooting. You say, “Yes. Yes. Maybe. Yes.” But you shouldn’t overshoot. It’s like overeating, overdrinking. You have to eat, you have to drink. But over is too much. Because by the time you press, you arm the shutter once more, and maybe the picture was in between.

Very often, you don’t have to see a photographer’s work. Just by watching him in the street, you can see what kind of photographer he is. Discreet, tiptoes, fast or machine gun. Well, you don’t shoot partridges with a machine gun. You choose one partridge, then the other partridge. Maybe the others are gone by then. But I see people wrrrr, like this with a motor. It’s incredible, because they always shoot in the wrong moment.

From a 1971 interview with the photographer by Sheila Turner-Seed. Published in the New York Times, June 21, 2013

The background of the interview is interesting and included in the article.