Henri Cartier-Bresson

二月 20, 2010


Henri Cartier-Bresson was a French photographer; he was born in a city nearby Paris. As a young boy, Cartier-Bresson owned a box camera, using it for taking holiday snapshots; he later experimented with a 3*4 inch view camera. His farther was a businessman and he hoped his son would take up the family business, but Henri was headstrong and rejected him.

During Cartier-Bressons early life, he studied in Paris at a catholic school. After unsuccessful attempts to learn music, he started studing painting under the influence of his uncle Louis who was a gifted painter. But uncle Louis’s painting lessons were cut short, because he died in World War I.

From 1928 to 1929, Cartier-Bresson attended the University of Cambridge studying English art and literature and became bilingual. In 1930, he did his mandatory service in the French Army stationed at Le Bourget , near Paris.

Returning to France, Cartier-Bresson recuperated in Marseille  in 1931 and deepened his relationship with the Surrealists. He became inspired by a 1930 photograph by Hungarian photographer Martin Munkacsi showing three naked young African boys, caught in near-distance, running into the surf of Lake Tanganyika. Titled Three Boys at Lake Tanganyika, this captured the freedom, grace and their joy at being alive.


That photograph inspired him to stop painting and to take up photography seriously. He explained, “I suddenly understood that a photograph could fix eternity in an instant.” He acquired the Leica camera with 50 mm lens in Marseilles that would accompany him for many years. He described the Leica as an extension of his eye. The small camera gave him in a crowd or during an intimate moment was essential in overcoming the formal and unnatural behavior of those who were aware of being photographed. He enhanced his anonymity by painting all shiny parts of the Leica with black paint. The Leica opened up new possibilities in photography — the ability to capture the world in its actual state of movement and transformation. He said, “I prowled the streets all day, feeling very strung-up and ready to pounce, ready to ‘trap’ life.”

In 1952, Cartier-Bresson published his book, whose English edition was titled The Decisive Moment. It included 126 of his photos from the East and the West. The book’s cover was drawn by Henri Matisse. For his 4,500-word preface, Cartier-Bresson took his keynote text from the 17th century Cardinal de Retz: “There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment”. Cartier-Bresson applied this to his photographic style. He said: “Photography is simultaneously and instantaneously the recognition of a fact and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that express and signify that fact”

“Photography is not like painting,” Cartier-Bresson told the Washington Post in 1957. “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,” he said. “Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.”


Cartier-Bresson was good at catching the specific moment. He stand at a higher place and shot this photo, a persen was raising a bike, I can image, he had to take this photo inmideli, if he took it later, he must miss it.

The composition of this photo is great I think, it’s  interesting.


This one was shot by the same way.


Cartier-Bresson stressed that photography is a king of art to expresse human’s thought, and stressed photographer should respect the reality of photography. He against planing,against the kind of  pre-arranged photo. In order to photograph the real and natural staff, Cartier-Bresson only used Leica 35 mm rangefinder cameras equipped with normal 50mm lenses or occasionally a wide-angle for landscapes.  He often wrapped black tape around the camera’s chrome body to make it less conspicuous. With fast black and white films and sharp lenses, he was able to photograph almost by stealth to capture the events. He never photographed with flash, a practice he saw as “like coming to a concert with a pistol in your hand.”

Cartier-Bresson believed that the photographer’s own level of education and knowledge is really important. He said, a photographer’s understanding and experiences of life will influence his work, every photography should be both a historian and a sociologist,  he should know every place he used been, and have a more deeply understanding of its past, present,  history, traditions and so on.


This photo was taken in beijing 1949, it shows the inside and outside of a door,
the rich, fat boss is sitting inside, and the worker who worked a whole day is sitting outside flood and eating some rice soup,salted vegetables. The most commen and cheap food.
It show the different people of different classes, their life and state.


Berlin Wall (1962), at the junction of East and West Berlin, Henri Cartier-Bresson caught such a great moment, a disable person was walking with a handlebar or stick something,  he is telling us a war had taken place here before. A soilder was walking with a gun reflects the continuing confrontation. What’s more, the rainy weather and dark coulor, making people feel a deep atmosphere of the photo. the subject is not important, but it is Henri Cartier-Bresson’s a famous work.


National Day of US, the old lady prepared to hang the national flag in her own house to celebrate this holiday, but her flagpole was broken. So she use the flag to cover his body. She said: “In my heart, can not live without this flag.” At this time, Henri Cartier-Bresson took the photo immidely.


In 1936, coronation of King George VI.  all the photographers came from many a countries came to see and took photos to London. most of them paid attention on the guard of honor on the magnificent. Henri Cartier-Bresson was so different, he also noted that a sleeping person was lying on the road. He was waiting for the celebration from the last night, and when the celebreation began, he cannot control himself and went into sleep.

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LEANNE COLE

Fine Art Photographer ~ Daring to be Different

Art by Ken

The works and artistic visions of Ken Knieling.

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