6 Photography tips you can learn from Henri Cartier-Bresson
Photos are made with the eye, heart and head
Composition should be a constant preoccupation
Shoot in Black and White
“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst”
Take your time
“To photograph is to hold one's breath”
In case you didn’t know, Henri Cartier-Bresson is known for being the father of photojournalism. His appreciations on composition, street photography and life itself are a sample that art can be blended with science easily.
Cartier-Bresson once said that “photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event”. He surely was a philosopher. He worked on assignments for major publishers and documented some of the most relevant events of the twentieth century.
As a founder of the Magnum agency, he left a magnificent legacy for our society. With several books published, Cartier-Bresson taught us how to be good photographers.
Here are some of his best tips:
Cartier-Bresson was an improvisation enthusiast. He used to say that technical aspects of photography were not –that- important. He always remarked the importance of creative act over the robotic action of taking shots. “Photography is, for me, a spontaneous impulse coming from an ever attentive eye which captures the moment and its eternity”, he once said.
For this master, composition is a complex science. He recommended that our eye must constantly measure for a good composition. That every photographer should experiment, by bending their knees and moving their heads; for a perfect shot. He said that “composition should be a constant preoccupation, being a simultaneous coalition – an organic coordination of visual elements. Composition does not just happen; there must be a need for expression (…)”. Anyhow, he interceded for spontaneous pictures as his favorites.
Henri Cartier-Bresson used to said that color is a private domain for the painters. “I find emotion in black and white: it tansposes, it is an abstraction”, he said. For him, “reality is like a chaotic deluge and within this reality, one must make choices that bring form and content together in a balanced way; just imagine having to think about colour on top of all this!”
This is one of his most famous quotes. It is important to know that practice makes us better photographers, and Cartier-Bresson knew that. Is trial and error, while you try harder, the better you will get. Period.
He used to compare painting to photography. “Drawing is slow, it is a meditation, but you have to know how to go slow in order to go quickly, slowness can mean splendor”, he said about taking your time when you are composing. “You have to forget yourself; you have to take your time”. Time, patience and effort; those are the keys.
(Success Tip:Take better photos with this simple deck of cards)
Cartier-Bresson also said once that when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality, it’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy. He used elements from geometry, painting and optics to generate amazing images.