Henri Cartier-Bresson: My Inspiration
We are all inspired by someone or other in our lives, our work, our decisions. Henri Cartier-Bresson’s body of work, the pioneer of street photography and the father of photojournalism, has long been a considerable source of influence on me as an aspiring photographer. Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) travelled widely for his work, and he used photography as a tool for observing his surroundings and for capturing those fleeting moments otherwise passed unnoticed. This is exactly the kind of approach to photography I prefer, where nothing is contrived, and subjects are captured at ease, often unknowingly, in their ambient surrounding. When I went on a 36-hour Paris trip this week, I just could not miss the vast, comprehensive retrospective exhibition on Henri Cartier-Bresson currently on show at the Pompidou Centre. Over 500 works are presented at this major exhibition, spanning most of Breton’s lifetime. However, the series of photographs that jumped out at me was the collection of images that Henri Cartier-Bresson took whilst on a work trip to the Soviet Union in 1954, and then again in the early 70s. He travelled there for the first time at the height of the Cold War following the death of Joseph Stalin; he was the first foreign photojournalist to have been granted a visa by the Soviet Union since 1947. Through his photographs he wanted to show the Western public that Russian people were in reality the same as them by recording their everyday, often quite mundane, life. The photographs for this post were taken from a wonderful book Henri Cartier-Bresson: Europeans by Jean Clair . The exhibition Henri Cartier-Bresson is on at Centre Pompodou until 7th June: if you get chance, catch it while you can!