Influences: Henri Cartier-Bresson

Story by Hal Goodtree. First published in

Cary, NC – Every photographer should have influences. My influences start with Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Bio of Henri Cartier-Bresson

Born on August 22, 1908 in Chanteloup, Seine-et-Marne, France.

Cartier-Bresson was a founding member of Magnum, the worldwide photo agency. He was an assistant to French director Jean Renoir and a prisoner of war in Germany.

He photographed Matisse, Picasso, Braque, Bonnard, Claudel, Rouault and other prominent French artists.

He documented the liberation of Paris, the funeral of Gandhi and the victory of the Communists in China.

Cartier-Bresson died on August 3, 2004 in  Montjustin, Provence, France.

The Father of Modern Photojournalism

While other photographers frame images, Cartier-Bresson frames life. This is no small task.

He doesn’t just show is two men standing by a wall in Brussels. He shows us the mood of all Belgians on the eve of World War II.

The approach is always documentarian, with a sure sense of composition and a feel for the moment.

The Moment

Henri Cartier-Bresson may be best known to students of photography for his philosophy of “the moment.”

The idea is that every action or activity – every scene in life – has a peak moment. Capturing the right moment is the essence of photography.

Cartier-Bresson in My Work

I was channeling HCB when I took this picture of the Carolina RailHawks. I set up in the place I wanted to be and waited for the moment to happen.

More information on Henri Cartier-Bresson

Video: Cartier-Bresson On Photography

This video is from a lecture at the International Center of Photography. It is one of the only clips of HCB speaking in English about his process.