Following my last two posts, that were both on the theme of documentary photography, I thought I would complete the trilogy by looking at one of the classics: Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004).
I first discovered his work when I stumbled across a photograph of some steps with a cyclist at the bottom. I loved its timing, the angles, the contrast and its ability to make a set of stairs stop me in my tracks. It was after that that I realised everybody had heard of this incredible photographer and his name was Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Cartier Bresson’s street photography is not taking photographs of ironic reebok classics or off duty models, but it was documenting people and their surroundings and making it beautiful. Or perhaps capturing the beauty that you or I might otherwise miss.
This is a very different side of documentary photography from that of Ewen Spencer or the photographs featured on BRUMPIC that I looked at previously. This is probably down to the purpose of the photographs but what really sets Cartier-Bresson apart is his skill at composition and the stark contrast of light and shade that he uses, as shown below.
I think now that everyone has a pretty good camera on their phones and we all post our dinner on Instagram, the idea of everyday photography can seem ubiquitous. However that’s why I think it’s really great to look at an old master like Cartier-Bresson because he was doing it before anyone else and showing us how its done.