Inspiring Black and White Photography: Henri Cartier-Bresson

Photographers that Inspire Me

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Below are a few very good films about Cartier-Bresson, I highly recommend them. But first, a few thoughts on why and how he’s been an influence on me personally.

Cartier-Bresson was a surrealist at heart, despite the documentary appearance of much of his work. “I’m not interested in documenting. Documenting is extremely dull.”, he said. “I’m not a reporter. It’s accidentally. It’s on the side.”

I share an intuitive nature, an attraction for the geometry of the world, and a disinterest in journalism with Cartier-Bresson. I’m mostly interested in the aesthetics of a photo, how the shapes work together, trying to find their proper place in the frame relative to the other elements I choose to include. I’m interested in tones and textures. I’m far less concerned with what the objects that provide those shapes actually are, what their functions are in the real world. That rarely concerns me. My concern is their function within the four borders of a two-dimensional photo, not that in the real world they may cut your grass, or air condition your home.

In the video below, Cartier-Bresson also talks about the pleasure of creating an order out of the seeming chaos of your surroundings.

“If I go to a place it’s to try to have a picture which concretizes a situation which at one glance has everything and has a strong relations of shapes which, for me, is essential. For me, it’s a visual pleasure.”

“The greatest joy for me is geometry,” he continues. “That means a structure. It’s a sensuous pleasure, an intellectual pleasure at the same time, to have everything in the right place. It’s a recognition of an order, which is in front of you.”

Cartier-Bresson’s work has taught me a lot, and has shown me many similarities in how I interact with and experience the world. He has plenty of wisdom and insight into his creative process to share in the videos below.

“There’s no new ideas in the world, there’s only new arrangements of things. Everything is new, every minute is new. That means re-examining. Life changes every minute. The world is being created every minute and the world is falling to pieces every minute.”

– December 2017

Read about more inspiring artists here.