The Conversation

Normally I try and walk a different way to work in the morning to explore the world around me and look for something I’ve never seen before. But on the day this image was captured I was taking a more direct route to work, one that I’ve taken many times before. Little did I know that I would capture one of my best images on such a routine walk to work.

Just outside the train station staircase I noticed two men having a deep conversation at the newsstand that I normally walk right by and pay no attention. But I got my camera out as the as quickly as I could and snapped 3 or 4 shots. The first 2 shots were taken from the hip, I wasn’t even looking in the viewfinder. The shots were Ok but I then used the viewfinder and composed this shot. I was luck they were still deep in their discussion.

To look at this image in its original state as it came out of the camera you wouldn’t really think much of it. The color didn’t add anything to the composition and the light was very flat. But when I converted it to black and white, the composition revealed itself to me in a stunning fashion. The structure and the placements of the elements are exactly what followers of Henri Cartier-Bresson would call “The Definitive Moment”. This is when everything in the composition comes together, the meaning and structure become one. This image is a quiet moment and the composition reflects that. There’s a slow rhythm that starts with the people walking on the left side. The viewer makes their way to the first conversationalist and then follows the papers, hanging in the background, to the second figure. From there the eye is free to explore the rest of the frame discovering little things like gestures and interesting objects. Without this slow tempo, this image would have just been a jumbled mess. Not only does the composition support the theme of a quite moment in the city; it allows the viewer the chance to slow down and explore a little, it give them a chance to discover something they’ve never seen before.

SONY, SLT-A77V, 50mm F1.4 ZA SSM
1/60, f/2.8, ISO 50

About the author

Terry Schmidbauer: