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Thursday, June 23, 2016

June's Book review: The Mind's Eye by Henri Cartier-Bresson

So you might have noticed things have been slow on the blog for the past 2 weeks, that's because I've been on holiday! Now that I'm back, there's so much to catch up on doing! I want to:

- blog about the ideas I've been having
- Finish the travel journal of my trip
- Think about some new goals for July
- Think about how to upgrade some of my hobbies

And lastly, I have to think about how to start on some of the above! So I will start with a book review of a book I was reading in June. 

The Mind's Eye by Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson was a photographer and photojournalist. Born in France in 1908, he passed away in 2004. He took many iconic photos throughout his travels as a photojournalist and is most famous for coining the concept of the 'decisive moment'. (More on that later.) The book is a compilation of his writings from his photobooks and also includes essays on his travels.

I bought this book a long time back because I was intrigued by the idea of the decisive moment. I took it to mean a sudden instant in time where suddenly a great photographic shot would present itself. Before I left overseas, I thought it would be good to read the book on the way so that I might get some insight on how to find that 'decisive moment' on my trip. 

While I wasn't entirely wrong about the decisive moment, I wasn't entirely right either as I found out from reading the book. I was intrigued enough to pick up another biography on Cartier-Bresson at a flea market later on holiday to find out more and from that book I learnt more about his style of photography. (blog idea: An essay on Cartier-Bresson!)

I would recommend Part 1 for photography enthusiasts. Here, Cartier-Bresson speaks from his perspective about what photography means to him and draws comparisons between photography and drawing. Keep in mind though that he worked a lot during the era of film, so you may have to understand a bit of film processing to really understand his views on darkroom processing and colour film. 

Part 2 and 3 then moves on to essays on his travels and on the people he knows. Here are the chapters that some may skip but if you have to, read what he observes about travelling to Russia or China. After all, photography is not just the blind taking of photos, it is also about capturing life and how do you capture life if you are not a keen observer of it? 

Overall, I found the book an easy read and it also inspired me enough to learn more about Cartier-Bresson, which I would write about later. (future blog post!) To me, a book that does that, is a good book indeed. :) 

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