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Posts Tagged ‘black & white’

To edit or not to edit with prints, that is the question

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on January 3, 2011

Yesterday I picked up the magazine where this image actually appear, Tricycle/The buddhist review, winter 2010. On these occasions I always have flashes of the state of mind I was in when I created the image.  Sure enough the tittle of the article  is “Mind like a Mirror/ The shimmering reflections of consciousness“, written by Andrew Glendzki.

I recall that at the time I was literally driving with mirrors in the back of my car, not quite sure how I would craft my final ideas. It didn’t pop up immediately, I had mirrors on the grass, under my harms, pieces of mirrors broken on the sidewalk and a couple of other concepts. The only thing that kept me searching for an idea I could be happy with, was my habit of printing my work, and looking at my prints side by side. It was the continuity, the flow of my mind looking for something, but not quite getting there that I could see on these prints. The only thing I could understand clearly was that I was getting closer with every picture, hence the final idea that appear here (model Brandon Queen holding the mirror).

That is precisely the point with editing. Of course it is to select the so-called final image(s), but it is above everything else, to see hints and traces of the future work that will take form. This method make sense for me, even (especially!) in an age where computer screens are taking away so much of our attention. Who knows, working this way might even be a revelation for those who never tried it out, a bit like having a shimmering reflections of consciousness… !

Adios all!


The Mirror, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. All rights reserved, Gaétan Charbonneau © /Millennium Images.



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One step beyond the decisive moment

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on November 17, 2010

Le Boulingrin, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. All rights reserved, Gaétan Charbonneau ©
I was looking at this image recently, and I went along thinking about the decisive moment, the concept elaborated by Henri-Cartier Bresson, a pioneer in the history of photography, one of the greatest photographer of our time.
This notion is embedded with a number of interesting nuances. The first thing that comes to my mind is the fact that there is a very fine line between the decisive moment and what I would call the expected moment. If one stand on a street corner with a well composed visual background and wait for an interesting silhouette, perfectly profiled to fit a predetermined space, does this stand for a decisive moment, or does it become more of a expected moment?
The idea of the decisive moment has been explored long and large, and could be ready to morph into higher grounds. For the sake of clarity, how can we describe a more precise notion of the decisive moment, while remaining faithful to the initial principle that something can never happen twice in the exact same way? How about the unexpected moment? Something that would distinguish planned imagery disguised as being something related to the decisive moment. Of course there is nothing wrong with that, what’s unclear is tagging a concept for something else, stretching the definition just a bit too far to remain true to the principle.
So, from now on, let’s reach for this ever elusive unexpected moment, just like this great image that went so  fast in front of my eyes, and that I missed last weekend…
Adios all!

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When less is more in graphic design

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on August 21, 2010

CANADIAN POETRY 1920 to 1960.
Edited by Brian Trehearne, published by McClelland & Steward Ltd, cover design by CS RichardsonImage: Gaétan Charbonneau©
When less is more, in graphic design.
I just did this book cover with one of my Black & White image, CANADIAN POETRY 1920 – 1960, from Brian Trehearne, published by McClelland & Steward Ltd, cover design by CS Richardson.
I first saw the book on display this week while looking for something else, a bit by accident. From a distance, the simplicity of the design was what attracted my attention in the first place.
Who said Black & White doesn’t sell anymore? That for the sake of convenience it is better to shoot in color since an eventual customer interested in licensing the image could simply strip out the color information? Book designers are a busy bunch. Always on the rush, I am not sure they have the time to imagine how a color image can translate into a monochrome, they need to see what they need on the lightbox, and the sooner the better.
From my perspective, it’s an entirely different story to go out with a digital camera knowing that no matter the subject, color information can always be stripped out, rather then using a camera with B & W films. On these occasions the mind sets in, and it then becomes possible to visualized the world in B & W on a level difficult to achieve otherwise.
Adios all

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Street photography

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on August 5, 2010

Homme et son soulier, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. All rights reserved, Gaétan Charbonneau ©
I’ve always been intrigued by the standard notion of “street photography”.
It’s one thing to adhere to that definition, and it’s quite another to find a personal style within the specific set of rules that constitute that definition. I had numerous “existential crisis” around the act of fitting inside the street photography notion until I had reached a relative peace of mind.
While there is clearly a sense of the decisive moment in every street photographers work, (a notion first pioneered by Henri-Cartier Bresson), I often find myself questioning the known boundaries of the street photography movement in a way that would still allow me to take advantage of its aesthetics strongest points.
Technique has obvious impact on the working mechanic of the movement and I recently managed to depart from traditional 35mm format cameras to see what would bring a bigger format in adding a 6 x 4.5 medium format camera to my arsenal. I saw that it clearly brought a more contemplative dimension to my work, since larger formats tends to slow everything down.
Another aspect that I often question is the location. What constitutes the street, in terms of territory from a pictorial point of view? Can a rural, non/asphalted location be considered “street photography”, and if not, why exactly? How pre-fabricated  (urban) the location must be to tag an image “street photography”? How big the city must be in order to engineer street photography imagery? Is it possible to come up with that type of imagery in a village? With a forest in the background?  These are relatively mundane questions at first, but upon further inspection questions like these remain important to ask for anyone interested in street photography and it’s place within the history of photography.
Doing street photography is one thing, and liking it is easy, but to find a personal vision within the traditional context of the definition is quite another thing that requires a massive amount of dedication.
Adios all!

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