Inaugurating a new type of short post, mainly in the form of a question to start an informed discussion, here’s an idea bridging the gap between my beloved filmmaking and its polar opposite, the photographic grail that is the decisive moment.
While photography has been my main hobby for decades, my secret love is filmmaking. And, in particular, editing. While the Director of Photography obviously has more in common with me, it is the editor that shapes the story through the application of great sensitivity to the flow of the raw material that has been shot, and copious amounts of creativity.
Rhythm plays a huge role in editing.
We are creatures surviving in an inherently rhythmical universe (night/day, orbits, seasons, tides …) by pulsating along with it (sleep/wake, inhale/exhale, eat/digest, work/play, earn/spend …) We get high on music. And editors shape the flow of a movie by timing the successions of tensions and releases, directing the flow of energy from one shot to the next, one scene to the next … because that is what our psychology is receptive to.
And there we are, us togs, freezing a moment in time, slicing through the fabric of our rhythmical existence to present to others a fragment of the world that was only real for the duration of the exposure, forever lost immediately thereafter.
It’s no wonder that, for a long time, the – non documentary, non testimonial – photographs that stayed with us the longest and most influenced the art, were those linked to what HCB dubbed the “decisive moment”. If we are going to break the continuum of our life’s flow, it might as well be for something decisive 😉
Ever wondered what that means, though? Decisive relative to what?
Well, I posit relative to rhythm.
Think sunrises and sunsets of landscape photographers. Think cresting waves at the peak of their movement. Think HCB’s man caught in the middle of a jump, right between takeoff and landing. Think the Iwo Jima flag, not on the ground, not standing, but in the flow of being risen. Sure, we can take many other types of photographs, but are they as universally interesting to others? Do they make us wonder how the cycle (i.e. story) ends, in the same way?
Master editors are ultra receptive to movement, flow and rhythm. They listen to music, are often trained in music. They observe the world’s fibrillations, obsess over the body language of actors, feel the flow and energy of each take, and make the subsconcious decisions to cut at exact points in time that no explicit rule in any book or any school can explain. What if we togs learned to do the same, to find and understand the rhythm in every scene and give less attention to those with none? What say you?
Never miss a post
Like what you are reading? Subscribe below and receive all posts in your inbox as they are published. Join the conversation with thousands of other creative photographers.