être disponible

by agnes s.

“I walk around a lot. That’s necessary. I try to go to places where interesting things might happen. And I’m always looking. At relations between people. I’m attracted to people doing things with each other. Mainly talking, as a matter of fact. Whenever I see a conversation in the streets, I’m immediately attracted to it. I’m curious. I have your standard voyeuristic instincts, and conversation is great photographic raw material. Generally, nothing happens. It’s a conversation, so what, big deal! But every once in a while something does happen. By going after that kind of situation I increase my chances of being there when that thing happens that’s going to make the picture.”

2point8: Can you tell me a little bit about the role of intuition in that? How you might come back on a certain day or month and say, ‘hey, I was really on, this was really working, my percentage of keepers is stronger that it has been’? I’m trying to get at that mysterious gravity that certain situations have, in which you’re compelled to make the right shot, where taking that picture feels almost willed? Like you couldn’t have not taken it.

It’s hard to know how much the situation is responsible for the picture and how much your availability is. In French, there’s a word,”disponible”, meaning, you’re letting yourself go, you’re available for things to happen. It’s a mental and emotional opening. In other words, you’re ready.

Sometimes something obvious happens and you happen to have a camera and you take the picture, but sometimes it’s because you’re ready, you’re sensitive to things, and you’re not thinking about other things – you’re concentrated and you’re more open to things happening. I couldn’t tell you the exact percentage, but both ways of functioning come into play.”

full interview here

“I’m not crazy about the term “street photography” to describe what I do, because it’s not necessarily done on the street. The pictures can be taken on a farm, at the zoo, in an office, and so on. Let’s say we consider the general category of “unposed pictures of people” (or sometimes animals or even inanimate objects when they happen to be possessed by human souls), and then the subcategory “with nothing particularly important going on.” If we further narrow it down to the “play” sub-subcategory, we get into the domain I’ve worked in for forty years. That’s what I like to do: play with ordinary reality, using unposed actors who are oblivious to the dramas I’ve placed them in.”

Richard Kalvar was born 1944, Brooklyn, New York. Lives and works in Paris. After studying English and American literature at Cornell University from 1961 to 1965, Richard Kalvar worked in New York as an assistant to fashion photographer Jérôme Ducrot. It was an extended trip with a camera in Europe in 1966 that made him decide to become a photographer. After two years in New York he settled in Paris and joined the first Vu photo agency, and then in 1972 he helped found the Viva agency. In 1975, he became an associate member of Magnum Photos, and a full member two years later.