Henri Cartier-Bresson, L’amour Tout Court (2001)
To me, Henri Cartier-Bresson was a photographer.
Although this seems like a basic and obvious statement, it means he took pictures. He carried a camera and by looking, he could see a photograph and then he took that photograph.
To Bresson, this ‘simple’ act of picture taking was a natural response to how he viewed the world and the changing society within it.
In the opening part of the documentary Cartier-Bresson says ‘What matters is to look’ he means to look before you press the shutter, to understand the meaning of what you want to portray before pressing the shutter.
Cartier-Bresson comes across as very humble and unassuming as a photographer and as a man. In this documentary, Henri seems to play down his role as one of the greatest image makers and instead is more interested to teach us the simplicity of life. He is showing us that over-complication interferes with our ability to observe our surroundings.
The interviewer is asking about one of Bresson’s most iconic images ‘Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare, Paris 1932. Where Bresson speaks of trying to fit the camera through the railings and not being able to see through the viewfinder. He was not aware of the man leaping and the interviewer responds with ‘That was lucky’.
‘It’s always luck. It’s luck that matters, you have to be receptive, that’s all. Like the relationship between things, It’s a matter of chance, that’s all. If you want it, you get nothing. Just be receptive and it happens’. Henri Cartier-Bresson L’amour Tout Court (2001)
What he is saying is that if you try too hard, you miss the point (and miss the picture). Again he is simplifying the photographic process. He is unobtrusive and speaks about choosing ’ form’ over ‘light’. When talking about the importance of geometry in a photograph and how it sits within the frame he remarks ‘ A sense of geometry, you either have it or you don’t’. Henri Cartier-Bresson L’amour Tout Court (2001).