Zen in the art of archery – The book Cartier-Bresson regarded as the ultimate photo one

When Henri Cartier-Bresson initially read “The zen in the art of archery” written by the german philosopher Herrigel, he thought it was a book about photography !

He lately said that “Photography is just like archery…it is all about concentrating, targeting and shooting”. To see the true nature of things, one has “to align the eye with the heart”. No need for a brain to press the trigger at the decisive moment. By training again and again, the apprentice has to master the technical skills and to let instinct rules. For Cartier-Bresson, the camera was just like a modern sketch book and “the zen in the art of archery” was the only manual a photographer needed…apart from going often to the art museums of course. The ultimate goal is to develop an invisible link between the environment and the camera. The photographer will then become a medium through which the new perception ability he has developed by intense training will connect to the material world. Surrealist by nature, it is easy to imagine that this oriental form of automatism as a way to materialize the freudian super-reality might have been of great interest to Cartier-Bresson.  In his forewords to this book, Daisetz Suzuki says that “one has to go beyond technical skills in order to develop a true art with roots lying deeply into the unconscious”. To summarize, train…train again….and again until you reach the point where pictures will be unconsciously composed. Only then, the shots will be pleasing for the eye and not only for the brain…

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6 thoughts on “Zen in the art of archery – The book Cartier-Bresson regarded as the ultimate photo one

    • Thanks for your comments! You are fully right, digital v. analog deserves a post. I will definitely write one and your comments will be more than welcomed. If you also write one, I will redirect it to my blog. That could be fun to have 2 different, or maybe not so different, perspectives on the same subject !

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