My first post and Henri Cartier-Bresson [1]

I decided to create this blog as one of my resolutions in 2015: to start a blog writing/collecting knowledge about professional fields that I have been interested in. I used to blog as writing diary, but after a while I started to get bored with myself. Isnt the world enough of bullshit? Well, I want to do something more useful with my life than sitting here and whining, so here it is.

So for my first blog eva, what should I write about?

Since photography has always been my greatest passion, this post will be dedicated to one of the photographers that have been inspired me lately. Let’s talk about Henri Cartier-Bresson.

FRANCE. Paris. Place de l'Europe. Gare Saint Lazare. 1932.

About his biography:

Henri Cartier-Bresson (August 22, 1908 – August 3, 2004) was a French photographer and was considered as the father of photojournalism. He was the master of candid photography and an early user of 35mm film. He helped develop the street photography or life reportage style, and coined the term ‘The Decisive moment’ which has inspired generations of photographers ever since.

– Wikipedia


*candid photography: a photograph captured through motion mostly, without creating a posed appearance. This is achieved by avoiding prior preparation of the subject and by either surprising the subject or by not distracting the subject during the process of taking photos. Almost all successful photographers in the field of candid photography master the art of making people relax and feel at ease around the camera, they master the art of blending in at parties, of finding acceptance despite an obvious intrusive element – the camera. How subjects react to photographer’s presence with the camera depends on how knowledgeable the artist is on the craft, the approach and the execution of the short.

It could be argued that candid photography is the purest form of photojournalism. There is a fine line between photojournalism and candid photography, a line that was blurred by photographers such as Bresson and Weegee. Photojournalism often sets out to tell a story in images, whereas candid photography simply captures people living an event.


*The Decisive Moment: the title of his book Images à la sauvette that was translated into English, published in 1952. In the book, Cartier-Bresson described his photography:

“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression”. “Photography is not like painting”, he said, “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”. “Opp! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.”

henri cartier

Equipments & Techniques:

Cartier-Bression nearly always used a Leica 35mm rangefinder camera fitted with a normal 50 mm lens, or occasionally a wide-angle lens for landscapes.[1] He often wrapped black tape around the camera’s chrome body to make it less conspicuous. He called it ‘the velvet hand…the hawk’s eye’.

He never photographed with flash. He believed in composing his photographs in the viewfinder, not in the darkroom. He worked exclusively in black and white, other than a few unsuccessful attempts in color. Technical aspects of photography were valid for him only where they allowed him to express what he saw.

“Technique is important only insofar as you must master it in order to communicate what you see…In the precise functioning of the mechanical object perhaps there is an unconscious compensation for the anxieties and uncertainties of daily endeavor. In any case, people think far too much about techniques and not enough about seeing.”

He tested new camera lens by taking photographs of ducks in urban parks (! ha :D) and considered it as a ‘baptism’ of the lens. The images were never published, though.

He denied that the term “art” applied his photographs. Instead, he thought that they were merely his gut reactions to fleeting situations that he had happened upon.

“In photography, the smallest thing can be a great subject. The little human detail can become a leitmotiv.

Surrealists photography influence:

As a matter of facts, it is important to learn that Cartier-Bresson’s photography was strongly influenced by the Cubist painter and Sculptor Andre’ Lhote. As a student in Lhote’s class, Cartier-Bresson was taken to Lourve museum to study classical artists and to Parisian galleries to study contemporary art. He developed this interest in modern art from an admiration for the works of the Renaissance masters. When the Surrealist movement took place in Europe in 1924, he had been socializing with the Surrealists and a number of the movement’s leading protagonists and was drawn to the Surrealist movement’s technique of using the subconscious and the immediate to influence their work.

As the historian Peter Galassi explains:

The Surrealists approached photography in the same way that Aragon and Breton…approached the street: with a voracious appetite for the usual and unusual…The Surrealists recognized in plain photographic fact an essential quality that had been excluded from prior theories of photographic realism. They saw that ordinary photographs, especially when uprooted from their practical functions, contain a wealth of unintended, unpredictable meanings.

[All the information above was collected as for my personal interest of studying about Henri Cartier-Bresson. All copyrights belong to its respective owners. ]

Nice articles related:

Magnum Photos of Henri Cartier-Bresson

10 things you can learn from Henri Cartier Bresson

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