Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Decisive Moment That Lead to the Decisive Moment: A Multi-Part Review of Henri Cartier-Bresson Part 1

Three Boys at Lake Tanganyika
Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908 – 2004), is considered a pioneer of photojournalism. Initially a painter, he turned to photography in order to ‘testify with a quicker instrument than a brush’ 

Seeing Three Boys at Lake Tanganyika (1930) by Hungarian photographer Martin Munkaski, Cartier-Bresson understood that, ‘photography could reach eternity through the moment’. He realised the potential of the camera to capture the ‘decisive moment’.
Using a 35mm camera with standard lens, allowed Cartier-Bresson to work quickly and unobtrusively.  The title of his book, Images à la Sauvette ( Changed for US publication to The Decisive Moment) means images on the sly; in other words, candid photography.
Cartier-Bresson insisted on strong composition. He used the viewfinder to frame subjects precisely, preferring to crop the image in the camera.
He shot in Black and White because he regarded the camera as simply a ‘sketchbook’. It's as simple as this. In a sense this lays to rest the black and white versus colour debate to a degree: For this "master" the choice was not one of aesthetics; it was merely practical choicefor this photographer.
This is the first in a several post series which together make up a small review of a great artist and a personal role model.

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