As a snapper of sorts, I am only too well aware that most of what we shoot is inconsequencial. Often the subjects do not lend themselves to greatness, sometimes we do not live up to our potential as photographers.
So when we encounter an image that has subject and execution in harmony, that catches a moment of the human condition in perfection, those of us with eyes to see salute such a photograph.
The great Henri Cartier-Bresson expressed this quality in far more eloquent terms that I ever could.
“There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative, Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.”
Photographers are guardians of the present and the past. Through our work, those who come after us can see how we lived, how we thought and what we did. It is, perhaps, the most powerful element of the photographer’s art. Until photography and film making arrived all we had to rely on was the written and spoken word and we all know how that can be manipulated or mistaken with the passage of time.
So on a morning when there is memorial service to Dan Wheldon scheduled at Indianapolis and the news over the mojo wire is of the death of Marco Simoncelli in Malaysia, it is good to remember the pleasures of life.
Here we see James Hunt in his full pomp having just won the 1977 United States Grand Prix. He is captured puffing on a tab, can of beer in hand, excitable Penthouse Pet at his side, it was the stuff of my dreams. And I could only dream about making images as powerful as this.
John Brooks, October 2011