Spotlight: Henri Cartier-Bresson

He is one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century and the father of street photography.
His images are quick, clever, and the best examples of what street photography is all about. They have humorous notes in them, but they are still kept true.
The term “Decisive Moment,” often associated with him, means that if the photograph would be taken a split second earlier or later, or the composition would be slightly different, the image would look totally different. He also was an opponent of cropping images.

Он является одним из самых влиятельных фотографов 20-го века и отцом уличной фотографии.
Его фотографии быстры, умны, и лучшие примеры уличной фотографии. В них есть юмористические заметки, но они всё равно остаются правдивыми.
Термин “решающий момент”, часто связанный с ним, означает, что если фотографии были бы засняты на долю секунды раньше или позже, иликомпозиция была бы немного отличной, изображения выглядели бы совершенно по-другому. Он также был ярым противником обрезки изображений.

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15 thoughts

  1. Hello there! A nice surprise this little Bresson tribute! If you have the “Scrapbook” released some years ago, you will find out that several of his famous photos are in fact cropped! (the last one in your post for example “Behind Saint-Lazare Station” is cropped) We all go for the perfect frame, but if things go wrong we should not be throw it away due to some pre decided rule.
    I still shoot film, but after buying a reliable digital full frame camera and some good lenses, I find that I shoot film less. The film is another state of mind altogether. But what becomes inflated, losses its value. And the easiness of the internet (not the digital cameras) is what took away a big part of the magic. In order to find new wonderful photos, you have to waste a lot of time going through photos that the person who uploaded them didn’t respect the time of the viewers. And after some time you just can’t afford to spend so much time looking for photos. You’ve got to make your own. So it is not the digital “easyness”, it is the luck of proper photographic education.
    And that is why I am glad for your tribute!

    • I agree with you. Film is completely different process and way of thinking. I like the fact that now there are so many photos and information, but to find quality, you have to go through so many!
      As for Bresson, I don’t find it so shameful that he cut his frames. Indeed, some of his photos are truly genius and to find that perfect frame is one-of-a-kind event.

  2. I trained in still photography with film and studied the masters. The visual discipline is very important, but it is also good to take the medium forward. Too bad I can’t get back all those hours I lost in the darkroom.

      • My son plans to major in communications, and I keep telling him he needs to study art history (to include film and photography) to understand that visual arts have their own vocabulary. You can lead a kid to college, but you can’t make him think …

      • I think it’s important for any major to have some idea about art history (because it’s scary how little people know about great art these days), but maybe he should get there himself. Good luck to you.

  3. Great photographer to spotlight. The concept of the “decisive moment” has been lost a lot with the advent of digital photography; there is a lot to be said about anticipating or waiting for the perfect moment rather than just firing off 1000 frames.

    • I agree with you and don’t agree with you at the same time. However, street photography kind of requires a lot of frames anyway – if you want to have a lot of interesting images. But I agree with you on the fact that it was lost. I think this is because there are a lot of lazy photographers, who know they can crop or photoshop the image. But there are still people who take great care and pride in their craft and will pay attention to details even with digital camera.

      • I know when people shot film instead of digital they were a lot more fussy. You couldn’t fire off a ton of frames, even if it was street photography, because it would be financially crippling . I think the last time I bought a professional roll of 36 frames it was $24 and that didn’t include processing or printing which was another $36 at a professional lab; the price was shocking. When I did practicums with newspapers you had a quota of film of what you could use. Plus there was the time restraint of too much shot meant you couldn’t possibly process, contact sheet and print in time for a deadline. It is great to see the different opinions. It is good. For myself, having shot on everything from view cameras to digital in a professional capacity, digital took away the magic and the art form. I also feel digital, and the concept of shooting as much as you like has made photography and the images more disposable and less valuable. This is a very interesting discussion and one I have had with many other pros.

      • I agree with all that you said above. I myself never shot film professionally, only digital. However, I will be taking film photography class next semester and so I’m very excited. People told me that even if I never go back to film after the class, it will still teach me to be more careful and thoughtful with digital. What I don’t like about digital is that, as you’ve said, although it does allow you to shoot as much as possible, everybody these days can buy digital camera and shoot away. Unfortunately, quantity doesn’t (always) translate into quality.

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