A Secret Place
“Derriere la Gare Saint-Lazare (‘Behind the Gare St. Lazare Paris’)” of 1932, also known unofficially as “Man Jumping Over Puddle“, that is one of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s most famous photographs. I think that as much as I like it aesthetically, I’m most impressed with the story behind it.
HCB said that he simply put the lens of his camera up against a hole in the tall fence that stood between him and what was on the other side, and pressed the shutter release button. He had no idea what he was capturing on film. He also had no idea that the shot behind that train station in Paris was destined to become one of the most admired photographs of a split-second in 20th century living, yet that’s what happened.
This picture is one of my own hip-shots. Had I craned my neck enough, I might have been able to see what was on the other side of the big masonry wall that runs along Hunter Street West but I wouldn’t have been able to shoot. So I chose my manual settings, reached over the wall with my camera in my left hand, aimed as best I could with my lens on AF and fired away. This was the result.
It may not be a smash hit like HCB’s but I’m quite proud of this piece for its adventurous nostalgic feel. It reminds me of being their age and exploring unfamiliar places and spaces with my old friends. It especially reminds me not so much of Hamilton but growing up in Prince George, BC where my friends and I would often go hiking in the surrounding forests and Nechako River cut banks on weekends and summer holidays.
Getting away from everything just to go and wander about has always been the source of some of the greatest experiences of my life.