Tuesday, August 25, 2009
No surprise that this is an exquisite book. I found it in the library while searching for some literature on wedding photography. I was hoping to be enlightened on how to take a thoughtful, revealing portrait. The books on wedding photography ascribe to a series of 1-2-3 rules for portraits, and while this is an important aspect to providing good products for your customers, it is rather void of the "enlightenment" I was seeking. Tete a Tete had that enlightenment in spades. My first viewing of the book was on my knees in the "art" aisle of the public library; I thought I'd just flip through the first few pages, but found myself entranced and unable to resist the temptation to turn the page and see another perfect portrait. I signed the book out and "read" it several times over the course of two weeks. My "reading" eventually slowed down; during every sitting with the book I became more engrossed with the small details of each portrait.
Each of Cartier-Bresson's subjects receive the same thoughtful attention: his portraits of prostitutes vibrating with the same sensitivity and insight as his vision of Stravinsky lounging on his couch. Here are people in their environment, ones they have assembled for themselves or ones they are forced to endure, and each portrait speaks volumes about both the sitter and their surroundings. This is the kind of book that will leave you in an awkward struggle: after just a few pages it will be difficult to resist the temptation to get up off your couch and take pictures of those around you, but you will not want to leave the stunning world that each image and each page pulls you into. Nevertheless, the inspiration is astounding.