Famous Photographers – Henri Cartier-Bresson
One of the leading photographers in the early part of the last century was Henri Cartier-Bresson. Born on August 22, 1908 in Chanteloup, France, he was the oldest of five children. As a teenager, Cartier-Bresson rebelled against his parents’ formal ways. Early in his adult he drifted toward communism. But it was art that remained at the centre of his life.
Cartier-Bresson travelled to Africa in 1931 and it fuelled an interest in him: photography. He experimented with a simple Brownie he’d received as a gift, taking pictures of the new world around him. Upon returning to France later that year, Cartier-Bresson purchased his first 35mm Leica, a camera whose simple style and stunning results would help define the photographer’s work.
For the rest of his life, in fact, Cartier-Bresson’s approach to photography would remain much the same. He made clear his disdain for the augmented image, one that had been enhanced by artificial light, dark room effects, even cropping. Cartier-Bresson believed that all edits should be done when the image was made. His equipment load was often light: a 50mm lens and if he needed it, a longer 90mm lens.
In 1947 Cartier-Bresson was one of the co-founders of the Magnum Photo Agency which has become one of the world’s biggest photo agencies. Not long after, Cartier-Bresson travelled east, spending considerable time in India, where he met and photographed Mahatma Gandhi shortly before his assassination in 1948. Cartier-Bresson’s subsequent work to document Gandhi’s death and its immediate impact on the country became one of Life Magazine’s most prized photo essays.
Cartier -Bresson died in 1994 just short of his 96th birthday and his influence on modern day photography is still immense. As a pioneer in photojournalism and using photography to tell a story I have found his work inspiring over my career.
Over the years I have looked at a lot of photos by Cartier–Bresson and his style is something I still aspire to and take inspiration from. Capturing the image ‘in camera’ rather than relying on lots of post processing is something I do my best to achieve every time I take the camera out.
For lots more information about Henri-Cartier Bresson visit Magnum Photos
My next Famous Photographer will be Steve Mc Curry, whose shot of an Afghan Girl was made famous National Geographic.