Henri Cartier-Bresson: The decisive moment

© Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation
© Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation

Henri Cartier-Bresson is a famous French street photographer and photojournalist. After recovering from black water fever he gave up painting and took up photography.

He used a small Leica camera with a 50mm lens which he covered with black tape to make it nearly invisible. He enjoyed submerging in a crowd and at the same time being ready to take a shot without being noticed by the people being photographed. He mainly took black and white pictures, and, surprise, surprise, he took no interest at all in printing his own pictures.

About his style he once said: “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.” (The Decisive Moment). He was continuously looking for the combination of a visual and dramatic highlight (see picture on top).

The Decisive Moment
The Decisive Moment

He traveled all over the world and participated in many historically important events where he took memorable pictures. For example, he took pictures of Mahatma Gandhi on his deathbed, after being shot during a protest against violence between Hindus and Muslims.

Death of Mahatma Gandhi
Death of Mahatma Gandhi

Although The Decisive Moment suggests that he always immediately  took the right picture. This is not true. Henri Cartier-Bresson took a lot of pictures before capturing the highlights he had in mind.

Besides reading The Decisive Moment, I also enjoyed the two blogs of Eric Kim about Henri Cartier-Brenson: