Over a century after his birth and more than a decade after his passing, Henri Cartier-Bresson ‘s legacy lives on. His vast body of work continues to influence and inspire generation after generation of aspiring photographers, and the Decisive Moment has become many a shutterbug’s guiding principle to this day.
Henri Cartier-Bresson was born on August 22, 1908 in Chanteloup-en-Brie, Seine-et-Marne, France. He was the eldest of five children, and was born to a well-to-do family, his father a textile manufacturer and his mother hailing from a clan of landowners and cotton merchants. He was brought up in a bourgeois environment and his parents were able to finance the demands of his creative pursuits.
He used a Box Brownie to take holiday photos when he was a young boy and later tried his luck with a 3×4 inch camera. By the time his uncle ignited his introduced him to oil painting, it was becoming pretty obvious that the young Henri was not headed towards inheriting the family business, as his father had expected.
He studied art under Cubist painter and sculptor André Lhote, and then painting with Jacques Émile Blanche, a French society portraitist, in Paris. As a student he went to the Louvre to learn about classical artists frequented Parisian galleries to explore more contemporary forms.
Henri Cartier-Bresson’s immense exposure to art proved to be very useful in his career as a photographer. He was able to imaginatively compose his shots and his photographs emulated to the look and feel of paintings; his compositions were very artistic.
He was instrumental in developing a particular style of street photography and life reportage that was later referred to as the Decisive Moment, which combines the elements of time, theme, and composition to create the perfect image. More often than not, Cartier-Bresson used a Leica Model I with 50mm lens for taking black-and-white photographs. He spent three decades of his career on as a photographer for Life and other journals. Henri Cartier-Bresson has since been known as the Father of Modern Photojournalism.
He died on August 3, 2004, presumably of natural causes as no cause of death was announced. Over a century after his birth and more than a decade after his passing, Henri Cartier-Bresson ‘s legacy lives on. His vast body of work continues to influence and inspire generation after generation of aspiring photographers, and the Decisive Moment has become many a shutterbug’s guiding principle to this day.
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