Sample Case Study on Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson was born in 1908 in Chanteloup France. He studied painting in Montparnasse at André Lhote’s academy in 1927 from where he joined the bohemian world of the Parisian avant-garde. He began using a camera and taking photographs of great influence in 1931. Within a period of a year, Henri Cartier-Bresson had a mastery of the miniature 35 mm Leica cameras. With the experience he had gained in photography, he started travelling to various regions including pain, Italy, Mexico, and Morocco. In his tours, Henri Cartier-Bresson developed the hallmark of the 20th-century photographic style. His photographic style of fusing form and content was very interesting. Cartier-Bresson travelled all over the world with his camera thereby becoming totally immersed in any given current environment. He is regarded as one of the main artists during his tenure as he covered many worlds’ biggest events such as the French Uprisings and the Spanish Civil War (“Artistic Leanings of Photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004)”).

I have always liked Cartier-Bresson’s artwork since I came across his pieces of work. To me, they are so informative as well as entertaining. His artwork is usually done in a methodological manner such that it can easily pass the message of the event it’s describing. It is explicit that he did a lot of artwork in his entire career. However, upon going through most of his artworks, I was attracted to this piece. The photograph in its setting looks funny in the sense that there is a person trying to move out of the scene and is caught in an unexpected manner. To some extent, the photograph seems not to be what exactly Cartier-Bresson wanted to take thereby conveying a very important message to younger artists. Therefore upon analyzing the photo in terms of its outlook, message, composition, and style, I chose this artwork.

The piece of work is indicative of the artistic style of Cartier-Bresson. The piece clearly portrays Cartier-Bresson’s spontaneous shooting style that could enable him to capture most of the events. The piece of art is informative like any other Cartier-Bresson’s artwork. The artwork emphasizes on the content and the informative side of the field. In his photographic career, Cartier-Bresson believed in capturing the major event other than concentrating on the beauty of the artwork. Therefore, this piece of work is a clear reflection of Cartier-Bresson’s style of artwork.

However, the artwork slightly deviates from Cartier-Bresson’s normal style of photography. In most of his artwork pieces, he emphasized on the components, background, framing, and clarity. In this artwork, the individual trying to get out of the scene is not clear implying that there is a change of style in this piece. Cartier-Bresson opted to change the style so that he can be able to pass the message to the relevant stakeholders. Therefore, the artwork contains most of the normal features of Cartier-Bresson’s style although lacking clarity.

In most of his artwork, Cartier-Bresson believed in a “decisive moment style” whereby he could take several photos of a given event from which he will ascertain the decisive moment. In other words, in a given event shooting, he could ascertain more than one decisive moment. Upon viewing this piece of work, it is clear that Cartier-Bresson did not decide to take it, but there is a likelihood that it was sorted out from a number of photos. It is not easy for one to take such a photo. Besides, the piece work clearly demonstrates a content that can easily pass a message. In its background, it shows building structures that can be associated with the ancient architecture in France.

Cartier-Bresson shot this photo with intent to educate the younger photographers joining the field as well other individuals in the society. Considering the set-up of the artwork, it is evident that there is a very strong message being conveyed. As mentioned earlier, the man trying to rush out of the scene was not initially intended to appear in this piece of work.  It seems like Cartier-Bresson was trying to capture the structures of the individual and by chance, the person was captured. The piece of work emphasizes the need to be patient in handling any given activity.

In his book “The Decisive Moment”, Cartier-Bressonnoted that sometimes he could face spontaneous circumstances which could force him to be patient and wait for him to take a good piece (Truman, Carter, Eisenhower, Ford, Johnson, and Nixon 22). Therefore, he did this art of work to propel other photographers as well as other individuals to integrate patience in executing their activities. When shooting, photographers should wait for the right moment to complete an image. Artists should not go out hunting for photo-opportunities; instead, they should wait for them to come.

Therefore, the artwork is an explicit reflection of Cartier-Bresson’s style of work. It is a photograph on which the aspect of the composition, background, and framing are perfectly done despite the fact that it lacks clarity. The deviation from his style of photography as portrayed in this artwork is meant to pass a message that artists need patience in their activities.


Works Cited

“The Artistic Leanings of Photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004).” ARTES MAGAZINE. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Apr. 2016.

“Photographers That You Should Know About – Henri Cartier-Bresson.” Photofocus – Education and Inspiration for Visual Storytellers. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Apr. 2016.

Truman, H. S., J. Carter, D. D. Eisenhower, G. R. Ford, L. B. Johnson, and R. M. Nixon. A decisive moment. Falls Church, VA: Landmark Media, 2002. Print.