Thursday, February 2, 2012

Henri Cartier-Bresson

By Lindsey Mulla

Henri Cartier – Bresson, is considered to be the father of modern photojournalism.
He was born in 1908 in France , he was a creative and dynamic photographer. He used a Leica camera with a 50mm lens for his equipment.  He engaged in travel expanding on his documentary photography as he traveled extensively to Asia, India, and Africa. He captures a spirit, and intimacy, and diversity of culture.

I have seen his work over the years, but what sparked my fascination over the last few weeks are the quotes from Bresson. 
Especially when going over portraits this week in class and what has been done before. I find a connection of Bresson’s methods to define the ideology of photography. This focus of our work is to create new works of art, to make something that is powerful and great. In order to make this we bring forth ideas that have been created before us, continually building off from the past, as well as each other. Having an idea is huge component to making a photograph.

Looking, scanning, saving a copy of photographs is wonderful; It’s a way of expression and a tool for learning. What I am drawn to is the idea behind it, the story from a person, their thoughts, feelings, and emotions. The photographer of the moment for me is Bresson his words lingers with a philosophy that gives his photography a mentality. It’s Bresson’s soul that jumps from the pictures. His meaning, eyes, and motions paint with light a composition that is shed for generations of what was, what is and what becomes.  Its Bresson’s method of photographing people that is remarkable.
His aim was to be undetected and hide in the background of his photographs, so he painted his Leica camera to disguises it and placed the camera within his clothing in order to photograph people without people being aware. This method was used to attain the natural events of people and their worlds; not something staged or artificial.   This method, his work, and commitment to work towards such intense conditions to capture a photograph not only shows the pressure he put upon himself, but opens up the mind of a determined being who is an inspiration to photographers such as myself.

His works

From the mouth and mind of Henri Cartier- Bresson

Photography is nothing--it's life that interests me. - Henri Cartier-Bresson

In a portrait, I’m looking for the silence in somebody. - Henri Cartier-Bresson

Photography appears to be an easy activity; in fact it is a varied and ambiguous process in which the only common denominator among its practitioners is in the instrument. - Henri Cartier-Bresson

Reality offers us such wealth that we must cut some of it out on the spot, simplify. The question is, do we always cut out what we should? While we're working, we must be conscious of what we're doing. Sometimes we have the feeling that we've taken a great photo, and yet we continue to unfold. We must avoid however, snapping away, shooting quickly and without thought, overloading ourselves with unnecessary images that clutter our memory and diminish the clarity of the whole. - Henri Cartier-Bresson - on photojournalism, American Photo, September/October 1997 , Page: 76

The most difficult thing for me is a portrait. You have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt. - Henri Cartier-Bresson, Photography Year 1980, LIFE Library of Photography , Page: 27

To take photographs means to recognize -- simultaneously and within a fraction of a second -- both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning. It is putting one's head, one's eye and one's heart on the same axis. - Henri Cartier-Bresson

Thinking should be done before and after, not during photographing. Success depends on the extent of one's general culture. one's set of values, one's clarity of mind one's vivacity. The thing to be feared most is the artificially contrived, the contrary to life. - Henri Cartier-Bresson

I'm not responsible for my photographs. Photography is not documentary, but intuition, a poetic experience. It's drowning yourself, dissolving yourself, and then sniff, sniff, sniff – being sensitive to coincidence. You can't go looking for it; you can't want it, or you want get it. First you must lose your self. Then it happens. - Henri Cartier-Bresson - September/October 1997, American Photo , Page: 96

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