Photographers Quotes: Henri Cartier-Bresson

What reinforces the content of a photograph is the sense of rhythm – the relationship between shapes and values. - Henri Cartier-Bresson, Photography Year 1980, LIFE Library of Photography , Page: 25 "Photography appears to be an easy activity; in fact it is a varied and ambiguous process in which the only common denominator among its practitioners is in the instrument"

"To take photographs means to recognize -- simultaneously and within a fraction of a second -- both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning. It is putting one's head, one's eye and one's heart on the same axis."

"Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again."

"Thinking should be done before and after, not during photographing."

"Reality offers us such wealth that we must cut some of it out on the spot, simplify. The question is, do we always cut out what we should? While we're working, we must be conscious of what we're doing. Sometimes we have the feeling that we've taken a great photo, and yet we continue to unfold. We must avoid however, snapping away, shooting quickly and without thought, overloading ourselves with unnecessary images that clutter our memory and diminish the clarity of the whole." - Henri Cartier-Bresson - on photojournalism, American Photo, September/October 1997 , Page: 76

BE INSPIRED BY OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS: The left photo, of Three Boys at Lake Tanganyika , taken by Martin Munkácsi was credited by Cartier-Bresson as “the only photograph to have influenced me.” On seeing these boys in a moment of freedom, spontaneity and joy, Cartier-Bresson commented: “In 1932, I saw a photograph by Martin Munkácsi of three black children running into the sea and I must say that it is that very photograph which was for me the spark that set fire to fireworks. I suddenly understood that photography can fix eternity in a moment …. [it] made me suddenly realise that photography could reach eternity through the moment. I couldn’t believe such a thing could be caught with the camera. I said damn it, I took my camera and went out into the street.’”

"Avoid making a commotion, just as you wouldn’t stir up the water before fishing. Don’t use a flash out of respect for the natural lighting, even when there isn’t any. If these rules aren’t followed, the photographer becomes unbearably obstrusive."

"In photography, the smallest thing can become a big subject, an insignificant human detail can become a leitmotiv. We see and we make seen as a witness to the world around us; the event, in its natural activity, generates an organic rhythm of forms."

above: Henri Cartier-Bresson self portrait.