Patrick Stewart, photographers and decisive moments…

Off to the press photocall for Edward Bond’s “Bingo” at the Chichester FestivalTheatre this morning. A stunning drive over the South Downs followed by coffee and biccies, and then into the intimate Minerva auditorium for our three scene set-ups. The actors were delightful and the tech staff obligingly adjusted lighting states for us (often essential as what looks good from your seat doesn’t always work for the camera). Patrick Stewart plays an imposing William Shakespeare in the last days of his life, faced with the prospect of losing the land he bought with money made from his plays.And so with the stage set, we all take our positions . .
Now, coming from the film generation I am no great fan of the “spray and pray” technique used by so many news photographers today. Ten years ago you might at best run through a couple of 36 exposure rolls, but nowadays the availability of endless gigabytes of storage seems to have induced an almost manic obsession to over-shoot. At points the actor’s speech was almost overwhelmed by the staccato clatter of Nikons and Canons firing at 9 frames per second -and to what end ? They are all working within the same space, yet they huddle together as if their lives depended on it – all taking virtually the same shot. Whatever happened to Cartier-Bresson’s famous “decisive moment” that we are all supposed to aspire to ? For my part I step back – I work around and behind the pack looking for a different angle – a different fall of light – a different feel.

“the decisive moment, it is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organization of forms which gives that event its proper expression.” Henri Cartier-Bresson