Photographer Of The Week: Henri Cartier Bresson

B. 1908, D. 2004
Chanteloup, Seine-et-Marne, France

Henri Cartier Bresson is considered to be the father of modern photojournalism, an early adopter of 35mm format, and the master of candid photography.
He helped develop the “street photography” style that has influenced generations of photographers that followed.

His sharp-shooter’s ability to catch “the decisive moment,” his precise eye for design, his self-effacing methods of work, and his literate comments about the theory and practice of photography made him a legendary figure among contemporary photojournalists.

His approaches to photography and works have exercised a profound and far-reaching influence. His pictures and picture essays have been published in most of the world’s major magazines during three decades, and Cartier-Bresson prints have hung in the leading art museums of the United States and Europe (his monumental ‘The Decisive Moment’ show being the first photographic exhibit ever to be displayed in the halls of the Louvre).
In the practical world of picture marketing, Cartier-Bresson left his imprint as well: he was one of the founders and a former president of Magnum, a cooperative picture agency of New York and Paris.
Taken prisoner of war in 1940, he escaped on his third attempt in 1943 and subsequently joined an underground organization to assist prisoners and escapees. In 1945 he photographed the liberation of Paris with a group of professional journalists and then filmed the documentary Le Retour (The Return).

From 1968 he began to curtail his photographic activities, preferring to concentrate on drawing and painting. In 2003, with his wife and daughter, he created the “Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson” in Paris for the preservation of his work. Cartier-Bresson received an extraordinary number of prizes, awards and honorary doctorates. He died at his home in Provence on 3 August 2004, a few weeks short of his 96th birthday.


1986      Novecento Premio
1981      Grand Prix National de la Photographie
1975     Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie
1975     Culture Prize
1964     Overseas Press Club of America Award
1960     Overseas Press Club of America Award
1959     Prix de la Société Française de Photographie
1954     Overseas Press Club of America Award
1953     A.S.M.P. Award
1948     Overseas Press Club of America Award


Behind the Gare St. Lazare

Behind the Gare St. Lazare

Decisive Moment: This term became associated with Henri Cartier Bresson after his book “Images à la sauvette” was released in 1952 and its English edition was titled “The Decisive Moment.”
Henri 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.”
“Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.”

Decisive Moment is the moment in an event which makes the instant and the image ever-lasting. It is the photographer’s ability to intuit that moment and click the camera at the perfect time.

Henri Cartier-Bresson’s ability to catch the moment in which an event is about to take place, made him a legendary figure in photojournalism.


~ by Fotoramus on August 6, 2009.

One Response to “Photographer Of The Week: Henri Cartier Bresson”

  1. […] Le Retour (1945, France/USA, Cartier-Bresson) – The prisoners are coming home.  Millions of prisoners, by foot, by train, and by plane.  When they look into the camera, you see a small reflection of Hell in their eyes.  Others look so ordinary, like it was all a horrible misunderstanding.  I wonder what became of them.  Watched it all. […]

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