#51: The Beautiful Discovery of Henri Cartier-Bresson

This photo of a child running through the fountains in Yonge-Dundas Square in downtown Toronto is one of the first I ever took that I really liked. As well,it came about completely organically. I happened to be shooting downtown and this child happened to run through the fountains while I was there.

Street photography, as I recently wrote about in a previous post, intrigues me more than any other style in this medium. I love coming across scenes or situations that are borne out of everyday life and events. To me it makes the image come across as more authentic, emotional, and real. I could have hired or asked someone to run through the fountain in order to achieve an image like the one above, but I believe that fact that it is a snapshot of a real child’s true emotion and excitement is the soul of the photo.

Today, I came across a photo that reminded me of this one. It’s a shot of a man in a hat who appears to have been

Photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson

running at full speed just before the photograph of him leaping in the air across a puddle was taken. The photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson, was called a “Rafael of photography” by the authors of the book I saw the image in (50 Photographers You Should Know from Prestel Publishing).

Born into a wealthy manufacturing family, Cartier-Bresson made a career out of being a photojournalist as well as by just wandering the streets and shooting photos of the interesting people and scenes he came upon. I won’t provide a full biography here (click the link attached to his name in the previous paragraph for that), but I will note that it was his philosophy concerning photography that intrigued me most.

Cartier-Bresson believed that photography should be spontaneous and organic — not preplanned or staged. A quote accompanied his mantra: “One mustn’t force anything. If you try to force something, nothing will come of it.”

I shoot photos for a living and my shots for work almost always involve staging models in my images. Of course, at work I’m shooting photos for commercial use so the method of staging models is what is needed and best for the purpose of the images and to do it any other way would result in a waste of time and money for both me and my employer. But when it comes to my personal collection, I completely agree with Cartier-Bresson.

The man was a brilliant photographer. He created one of the most stunning bodies of work I’ve ever seen. He traveled the world and experienced both worse horrors and greater successes than I have. It gives me hope for the future of my personal art that he and I shared the same philosophies regarding photography.

Now, the next step is actually shooting images even half as great as his.

My blog photo can be seen in my collection Candids and Colours, by clicking here.

This post appears as part of the FOCUS 365 photo blog component of Bastard Type

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5 thoughts on “#51: The Beautiful Discovery of Henri Cartier-Bresson

  1. Pingback: Focus 365 — Not a Sunset, but a Sunrise « Bastard Type

  2. Pingback: Happy 103rd Birthday Henri Cartier-Bresson « Bastard Type

  3. Pingback: #164: Girl and Fountains « Bastard Type

  4. Pingback: #131: The Accidental Genius of Eugène Atget « Bastard Type

  5. Pingback: #130: Florence: The City So Nice I Edited It Twice « Bastard Type

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