A God in interview: Henri Cartier-Bresson

A few days ago I discovered a video interview with THE photography legend Henri Cartier-Bresson. I was totally excited to see and hear him talking – for me he was always just that almost ghostlike and godlike person whose incredible pictures from the midst of the last century I admired for years in books, magazines and on posters – but whom I almost never imagined to have been a real person. It is just one of these special things with photography – you might be totally in love with the work of a certain artist but actually never see or hear much about the actually people behind the lens – especially when they worked many decades ago.

For many photographers Cartier-Bresson was, is and probably always will be regarded as the greatest photographer to ever have pressed  a shutter on this planet.

He coined the phrase “decisive moment”, helped turning street photography into an art form, co-founded one of the most respected photo agencies in the world (Magnum) and took photos which can only be regarded as timeless masterpieces.

The interview is introduced by another photo god – Richard Avedon – who is also in total awe of his work. Avedon says a photographer can be lucky if he can create 10 iconic pictures in his life time while Cartier-Bresson had taken hundreds.

The interview is not the fastest – as Cartier-Bresson was already at a relatively advanced age when the interview was conducted – but give it a chance to hear what this genius has to say about his work, our world and the legendary people he was surrouned with – like Robert Cappa and Picasso.

What I liked the most about him was that he seemed really humble about his unquestionable achievements. Whenever the interviewer describes him as master or genius – Bresson classifies himself as just being an anarchist.

I also learned that this master of black and white photography with a truly stunning eye for the perfect moment and composition never cropped a single of his photographs – it was all done in camera. He never even printed a single picture himself. He actually never learned how to use a dark room and always handed his films over to someone else to print.

For any fan of photography especially of street photography this is a rare gem. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


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