Famous Photographers

Famous Photographers Series: Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson is considered by many the worlds greatest photographer. He was an early adopter of the 35mm lens. Unlike today, the 35mm lens was considered a small lens and camera. 4X8 cameras were in vogue during Cartier-Bresson’s days of the mid 30’s. Henri Cartier-Bresson was known for his journalistic style of photography capturing the candid moments of life. He is considered the pioneer of street photography genre.

The main similarity between a portrait photographer and a journalistic master like Henri Cartier-Bresson is the tool used to capture images, the camera. While my style is quite different, I appreciate and idolize his works. Henri Cartier-Bresson was known for his ability to illustrate the story through his photography in a candid way. Conversely, portrait photographers are not capturing candid images, but create a candid feeling in order to photograph the story inside every person.

Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Bio

Born in France to a textile manufacturer and a cotton merchant, Henri Cartier-Bresson was the eldest of 5 children. He became proficient in english, and developed an interest in modern art paintings. He was later quoted as crediting his art teacher, Andre Lhote as his teacher of “photography without a camera”.

Henri Cartier-Bresson was given his first camera, not long after being conscripted into the French Army, by Harry Crosby. The two developed a close friendship and often took and printed pictures together. While in the French Army, Cartier-Bresson was caught and held as a Nazi War prisoner for 16 months, and was kept in solitary confinement for attempting to run away twice, finally succeeding escape on his third attempt.

In the early 30’s he took up photography as a career, and became famous for using a small Leica camera with a 50mm lens painted all black to keep attention away from him and help him remain anonymous while out on the streets. Henri Cartier-Bresson would end up traveling all over the world, both to photograph others and exhibit his work.

Cartier Bresson left us in 2004 at the young age of 95 yrs old.

“Photography is not like painting, there is a creative fraction of a second when your 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 photogrpher is creative Cartier-Bresson told the Washington Post in 1957. “Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.”

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