The Art of Observation
“Photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organisation of forms which give that event its proper expression.”-Henry Cartier-Bresson.
Cartier-Bresson always emphasised the importance of composition, and liked to “instinctively fix a geometric pattern” into which a chosen subject fitted. The idea that he lay in wait for someone to walk into a precomposed frame may explain his extraordinary hit rate.
In his twenties, with an allowance from his wealthy father, who owned a textile business near Paris, he roamed the world taking photographs in Spain, Italy, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast and Mexico. He assisted Jean Renoir on films and was influenced by the revolutionary spirit of Surrealism. It was a period during which he struggled to find his method as a photographer.
In 1932, he bought a Leica camera in Marseilles and it was from this moment that he felt he really became a photographer. The Leica liberated the art from heavy and cumbersome technology, enabling Cartier-Bresson to travel and take pictures. It was the age of the snapshot.
Behind the Gare Saint Lazare_1932
Rue Mouffetard, Paris_1954