a blog by knut skjærven

The Lightness Of Life (5)

People and Spaces

Let me mention another line of direct inspiration.

HCB, in his best images seems, to be in total control. I can’t find a better word for it. It is impressive and almost unbelievable.

Within that total control there is the perfect placement of people as a striking factor. I am not talking about one or two people, which in comparison is easy, but about several people. Think about how difficult that is. The chances of blowing it are immense. It is not one decisive moment, but many. Each in their own little frame. We are talking about splits of seconds of control. An alert balance between photographer and photographed, that are very unique.

One of the most impressive images I have encountered in terms of control and people placement, is the picture HCB shot in L’Aquila, Italy in 1951. You know that too, I am sure. Here it is at Magnum’s Website.

It is a dream picture. And it will it always stay a dream because no one today can take pictures like that. However, it is not forbidden to try. So I did.

Let me show you a couple of these trials hoping not to be laughed off the premises. For me this is part of the aesthetic similarity even if there is no surface similarity at all. The two picture are Piano Man (5) and Waiting for Wagner (6).

Piano Man (5). © Knut Skjærven.

Piano Man (5) is shot in Copenhagen in the end of July 2011. One of the things I definitely have from HCB is the importance of distribution of spaces and people. If you have more than one or two people in I shot, it starts to get tricky. You don’t only want to have them in the right place, but you also want them performing the right acts. Here you have got 5 people to deal with.

Waiting for Wagner (6). © Knut Skjærven.

Waiting for Wagner (6) is actually shot the same day as Piano Man (5). Very close to it, as well. Here you deal with 13 people that all have to be in the right place. On top of that, you want them to be engaged in a meaningful activity, as well. I find these things very challenging, and I often try to make something out of it.

 HCB’s dedication to detail has been a clear inspiration for me. And it still is. Very much so.


What About Henri Cartier – Bresson? The Lightness Of Life.

(Links to all sections).

Prelude; The Lightness Of Life (1); The Lightness of Life (2 & 3); The Lightness of Life (4); The Lightness of Life (5); The Lightness of Life (6); The Lightness of Life (7); The Lightness of Life (8); The Lightness of Life (9); The Lightness of Life (10); The Lightness of Life (11).


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