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Posts Tagged ‘Henri Cartier-Bresson

Team Leader As Artist: Let Your Team Crop Your Problem

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What does your team see?

Photographers routinely crop and display just the section of the photo they want their audience to attend to. Cropping—possibly the easiest, most straightforward thing a photographer can do—changes the information the photo provides. Cropping also changes the feeling the viewer gets.


The right crop can stir emotion.

Most photographers work at getting composition right and so avoid cropping. Henri Cartier-Bresson famously accomplished that. Alec Soth gets this done too—though his process seems mysterious. The success of their composition looks like an invitation into another world, something frozen in time. Something clearly different from our own daily life.

That is the memorable artistry of the photographer.


Teams can be very gifted at cropping. Since we all naturally see a problem from a different perspective, collecting those perspectives in an open discussion can do a lot to reframe a problem into a most excellent opportunity. For a team to function this way, there needs to be a premium on open discussion. It helps if team-mates learn to value each other’s opinions. Listening and assigning value to each other’s contributions can be learned. I would argue it starts from the team leader (or manager/VP/CEO) and work its way down. Valuing each other’s perspectives (or not) is very much a part of corporate culture. But value can also move from the other direction: I’ve had teammates who valued different perspectives and taught the rest of us to find great joy in listening and considering.

Seth Godin routinely reframes art to include “making connections between people or ideas.” Some reading this will create art today by running a meeting that will make it possible for all around a conference table to hear a new thing. Their process for creating this art will be an examination of a problem that gets cropped from five or seven different perspectives. The result will be a well composed opportunity that has emotive power for each of the people at that table.

What art will you create today?


Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Cartier-Bresson: Zoom Lens is the Work of the Devil

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To See. To Learn to See.


HCB must have framed this and simply waited for the decisive moment.

I’m not sure if Henri Cartier-Bresson actually said that about the zoom lens, but it would fit with his aesthetic. He spent his life getting close to his subjects with a small Leica and its 50mm lens (which he used all his life). That camera and lens brought him in close and kept him there. Someone recently described the big zoom lenses available today as akin to hiding and shooting as a sniper.

What impresses me about the photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson is his ability to capture something deep in people. A moment of reflection. He called it “the decisive moment” and it was gone as quickly as it appeared. Cartier-Bresson could irritate people because he would sometimes take a photograph before his initial bonjour.  But he also spent time just hanging around with his camera. People grew used to seeing it (the Leica) and him and he was quick to bring it up to his eye and put it down again: no big deal.


HCB caught Jean-Paul Sartre being Jean-Paul Sartre

In my quest to learn to see, Cartier-Bresson is a valuable guide. He photographed lots of famous folks (thinkers, artists and politicians—he shot Gandhi 15 minutes before Gandhi was, well, shot) and he captured lots of regular people—in a way that reveals a stunning beauty. Here’s a lovely collection of his Magnum photos. Two quotes from this remarkable man:

To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.

For me, the camera is a sketchbook, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously.

Seeing takes work and practice.


Image Credit: Henri Cartier-Bresson

Written by kirkistan

June 27, 2013 at 9:12 am

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