: On Photography

Derek On Photography

In conversation with top wedding photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson

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on my mindA while ago Henri Cartier-Bresson had the great pleasure of meeting one of his heroes. Me. In this never before seen interview I spoke to Henri about his life and work and my influence on him. 

 I travelled to meet Cartier-Bresson in Paris, taking with me a box of pickled onion Monster Munch as a gift. Legend has it that he loves them but they are impossible to find in France. We meet in a cafe in the Montparnasse area. He greets me like an old friend. It's all hugs and backslapping and little punches and neck locks. We wrestle on the floor for half an hour like Oliver Reed and Alan Bates in Women in Love. Eventually, after I land a nasty rabbit punch, a waiter comes over and separates us.

 I order a large bottle of Absinthe and we settle down, two giants of the medium, and begin our conversation.

The Rules of Photography: Less is more and it’s also less work

Photography is about rules, rules and more rules. You can't be a top professional husband and wife wedding photography team unless you know the rules. Breaking them will break you and lead to a life of misery and pain. Here are a few of the basics.

The Rule of Thirds - You may have heard of this one and the accompanying myth that it's got something to do with composition. No no no! That's what we want you to think. The rule of thirds is the rule that any fees or associated costs go up by a third when anybody mentions the word wedding. Never break this rule or I will come round to your house and kick your head in.

The Ten Second Rule - Obey this and you'll save thousands of hours in post production. It's a trick dating back to the days of film. When you are out shooting a wedding it's tempting to snap away. After all you’re shooting digital so it's not costing you anything. Wrong! The more you shoot the more hours you have to waste sat at a computer looking at the bloody things. Here's the trick. Every time you are about to take a photo, count to ten. Think. Is this really any good?. Is this a great photo? 99.99999 times out of a hundred it won't be so don't take it. You've probably missed the moment now anyway. I used this rule at a wedding recently and returned home only having shot 9 photos, and two of those were when the camera went off accidentally as I was lighting a fag. This saved hours in post-production. Less is more and it’s also less work. The Ten Second Rule also allows time for the bridesmaids to tuck their tits in.

Golden Hour - Nothing to do with the light. Golden Hour is the time between the start of the wedding breakfast and the beginning of the first speech. During Golden Hour you will find your wedding photographer in the bar drinking your free booze. Photographers call this time  Golden hour as there is nothing more beautiful that being paid to drink free booze. Not to be confused with a golden shower, which is something to do with the mother of the bride.

Derek Pye On Photography - Timeline

0. 1816: Nancy Niépce combines the camera obscura with photosensitive paper, a ripe camembert cheese, garlic and
0. six bottles of wine.
0. 1834: Henry Fox Talbot creates permanent (negative) images using paper soaked in Gin and fixed with a Tonic solution, and accidentally creates photography, which like football will always be English
0. 1837: Louis Daguerre creates images on silver-plated copper, coated with silver iodide and "developed" with warmed mercury; Daguerre is awarded a state pension by the French government in exchange for publication of methods and the rights by other French citizens to use the Daguerreotype process. Unfortunatley all Daguerrotypes are rubbish. Photography outlawed in France until the outbreak of the first world war and Daguerre is forced to work as a rent boy.

0. 1841: Photography is still English
0. 1861-65: Mathew Brady and staff (mostly staff) covers the American Civil War, exposing 7000 negatives. Only six come out nicely exposed.
0. 1866: Mattew Brady invents the light meter.
0. 1877: Edweard Muybridge, born in England as Edwina Muggridge, settles "do a horse's four hooves ever leave the ground at once" bet among gay San Franciscans by fixing a camera to each of the hooves.
0. 1888: first Kodak camera, containing a 20000-foot roll of paper, enough for 10000 2.5-inch diameter triangular pictures. The camera is too big to carry and hundreds of photographers are killed.
0. 1900: Kodak Brownie box roll-film camera introduced. Setting photography back 250 years
0. 1902: Alfred Stieglitz organizes "Photo Secessionist" show in New York City. It’s rubbish and the photographers are rounded up and shot.
0. 1921: Man Ray begins making photograms ("raymondographs") by placing bits or rubbish on photographic paper and exposing the shadow cast by a distant light bulb.
0. 1922: Man Ray’s friends buy him a camera. Phew.

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