Henri Cartier-Bresson and Street Photography


French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, the father of modern photojournalism, has inspired plenty of photographers. His raw images capture the emotions of his subjects and his photo compositions are phenomenal. Read more about Henri Cartier-Bresson and his street photography.

Two Old China Hands, Shanghai 1949 image © Henri Cartier-Bresson via Laurence Miller Gallery

Henri Cartier-Bresson was a photographer who started out as a painter. Because of his interest in capturing intimate moments in the lives of people around him, he got into street photography. Most of the photos that he takes are of big events, wars, clashes in society, and other interesting subjects. His street photography possesses some qualities that every photographer can learn from.

Srinagar, Kashmir 1948 image © Henri Cartier-Bresson via After Image Gallery

One thing that makes Henri Cartier-Bresson an excellent street photographer is that he immerses himself in the places where he shoots. He has travelled all over the world and visited Europe, USA, Asia and Africa and has spent a long time in these places in order to learn about the culture and the people there. This gives him an understanding on how to approach each shot that he takes.

Volcano of Popocatepetl, Mexico 1964 image © Henri Cartier-Bresson via After Image Gallery

Henri Cartier-Bresson spent a lot of time on personal shoots. Whenever he shoots for himself, he only used a 50mm lens. This gave him the chance to be truly familiar with one tool and hone his skills until the lens became an extension of himself. By doing this, he was able to improve his techniques as a street photographer.

Quai de Javel, Paris 1932 image © Henri Cartier-Bresson via After Image Gallery

Learning to blend in is a big part of street photography. The idea is to capture candid moments and the best street photographs are when the subjects are oblivious to the presence of the camera. This is exactly what Henri Cartier-Bresson did. He would cover his camera or apply black tape in order to hide it from view.

Hyde Park, London 1937 image © Henri Cartier-Bresson via Laurence Miller Gallery

Since he was a painter before becoming a photographer, the composition of his shots can be compared to that of a painting. The people, scenery and objects are always the focus. Henri Cartier-Bresson actually stopped being a photographer and went back to drawing and painting.

Children Playing by the Berlin Wall, 1962 image © Henri Cartier-Bresson via Laurence Miller Gallery

These are some of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s qualities that make him an excellent street photographer. With the kind of talent he has, his photos will surely be talked about for years to come.

Henri Cartier-Bresson was also part of a series made by Cornell Capa. Hear what he has to say about photography.

For more Henri Cartier-Bresson articles here on Lomography.com, read Best of the Best: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Grey, Blurry, Small, Odd Crop and London Street Photography

written by jeanmendoza on 2011-09-16 in #lifestyle


  1. wuxiong
    wuxiong ·

    He was the founder..

  2. analogmonolog
    analogmonolog ·

    true legend :)

  3. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    Legendary HCB! He was one of the first photographers I discovered before I started myself to shoot... always love his work!

  4. keni
    keni ·

    i love this kind of article.always inspiring.

  5. selmasailor
    selmasailor ·

    such a new eye for hummanity in its day-life!

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