1. Henri Cartier Bresson


I am starting a new segment from today: Learn from the Masters. It will showcase the work of the greatest masters in the field of photography. I am starting with one of my favourite photographers: Henri-Cartier Bresson.

As wikipedia says: Henri Cartier-Bresson (August 22, 1908 – August 3, 2004) was a French photographer considered to be the father of modern photojournalism. He was an early adopter of 35 mm format, and the master of candid photography. He helped develop the “street photography” or “real life reportage” style that has influenced generations of photographers who followed.

I saw this documentary on him yesterday and it revealed some very interesting facts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGKubZ1B07c

Interviewer: Can one learn to see?

HCB: Can one learn to have sex? oops….cut…. One day they will create teachers for everything. To learn to see is to go to Louvre musuem and look at Rubens’ paintings. It may also teach you about sex or make you feel like having sex. That is all that matters, Love. Not only Love-making but just plain love. Love for life………

Henri-cartier bresson stressed on reception, use of senses and not mind.

This is the most famous photograph taken by HCB but it is also special in some other ways. It is one of the two photographs he edited throughout his lifetime. He din’t even know what he was shooting and it was a matter of pure luck. So is it all about luck? According to him, yes. But you have to be receptive to that moment when it appears in front of you. Catching a particular moment in camera is luck but your ability to recognize is matters. Photography is a work of concentration.

Photography is nothing–it’s life that interests me

 What I am trying to do more than anything else is to obseve life.

There is one domain which photography has won away from painting – or so it is claimed – and that is portraiture. Faced with the camera, people proffer their best “profile” to posterity. It is their hope, blended with a certain magic fear, to outlive themselves in this portrait, and here they give us a hold. The first impression we have of a face is frequently correct; if to this first impression others are added by further acquaintance, the better we know the person the harder it becomes to pick out the essential qualities. One of the touching features of portraiture is that it reveals the permanence of mankind, even if only in the family album. We must respect the surroundings which provide the subject’s true setting, while avoiding all artifice which destroys the authentic image. The mere presence of the photographer and his camera affects the behavior of the “victim”. Massive apparatus and flash bulbs prevent the subject from being himself.

Photography appears to be a simple matter, but it demands powers of concentration combined with mental enthusiasm and discipline. It is by strict economy of means that simplicity of expression is achieved.

It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head.

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.

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.

We photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing, and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth can make them come back again. We cannot develop and print a memory.

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