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“Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson - Machedo Plaza Balcony - Mazatlan

“Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson - Machedo Plaza Balcony - Mazatlan  copyright Jerome Shaw 2013 / www.JeromeShaw.com
The shadows from the palm trees in Machado Plaza sway on the textured wall of the balcony above
Pedro y Lola Restaurant during the reverie of Carnival in Mazatlan, Mexico.


 “Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson


This is one of the first photos that caught my eye when I looked through my photos after a trip to Mazatlan, Mexico for Carnival earlier this year.  I liked the tonality of the image and the composition.
I felt it conveyed a sense of what the Machedo Plaza looked and felt like during my time there.

The photo was shot hand-held at night. It is not tack sharp but in this case I felt the slight softness created by the "too-long-for hand-held" exposure time helped create a desirable quality in the photo.  It added to a painterly quality that the shadows of the moving palm trees created as I observed the scene.

I have always liked the Cartier-Bresson quote "Sharpness is bourgeois concept" and it certainly jumped into my head as I prepared this photo for publication.

Now don't get me wrong, I like a razor sharp image as much as the next guy.  I spent the better part of my career as a commercial photographer creating images full of detail and sharpness with perfectly smooth surfaces.  Yet, there has always been a part of me that loved to drag the shutter, capture movement in my subjects, blur the sharpness and create impressions rather than present precise detail.  I like to violate the sanctity of the smooth, shiny, reflective surfaces of perfectly printed photographs. When I print this photo it calls out for a textured surface to enhance the textures of the wall and the shadows.
“It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera, they are made with the eye, heart & head.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
A photo like this one is more about projecting the impression of the event than it is about documenting the experience.  I find that often, a small area of the overall scene often does a better job of expressing the feeling of being there than an over-reaching photo of the entirety of the scene.  A small detail of the overall setting can stand in stead for the whole scene and give the viewer keener sense of what being there was like.
“Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field.” – Peter Adams
Do you feel that only photos that are tack sharp are worthy of publication?  Do you have images, though they are less than perfectly sharp, convey the feeling you intended to express?  Do you agree with Cartier-Bresson's sharpness quote? What about Cartier-Bresson's quote about how photos are made?  Please share your thoughts below in the comments, I'd like to know what you think?

Contact me at @JeromeShaw  or Facebook 

copyright Jerome Shaw 2013 / www.jeromeshaw.com

My travels to Mazatlan were sponsored by Mexico TourismGoMazatlan and Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide

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