City travels
Project info

I look at this old black-and-white photograph often. It depicts a man on a bicycle riding past an outdoor staircase. It is oddly composed, with surfaces cropped-off at sharp angles and the bicyclist barely in frame, his likeness badly affected by the motion blur. What’s in sharp focus here might be peripheral to the story, and the real action is outside the viewfinder. Why then does this capture by Henri Cartier-Bresson exert such a powerful gravitational pull? To my mind, the HCB photo (entitled simply “Hyères, France”) serves the highest purpose of street photography: to recognize and preserve the mystery hiding in plain sight, where everything is open to interpretation but eludes facile solutions. Getting closer won’t help you, no matter what Robert Capa famously said. Worse, getting too close will ruin the mystery – and your photo. Between the observer and the observed, it’s a delicate balance indeed. Leave some cobblestones unturned…