Henri Cartier-Bresson


Last weekend I read that, for the great French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, the art of photography is in capturing the ‘decisive moment’.

He wrote in his seminal work:

“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organisation of forms which give that event its proper expression.”

As crystal clear as his trademark 50mm Leica-mounted lens.

Not for Cartier-Bresson the ‘tints’, ‘crops’, ‘effects’ and ‘enhances’ of Instagram and Photoshop. He was a pure black and white man, with everything he wanted framed only by the lens.

Wikipedia says he showcased this discipline ‘by insisting they include the first millimetre or so of the unexposed clear negative around the image area resulting, after printing, in a black border around the positive image.’

With an iPhone to hand, it’s easier than ever to capture the decisive moment. But sometimes, if you’re not an Henri, you need a bit of luck.

How happy was I then to capture for posterity this moment of athletic grace as my daughter, in the manner of Myron’s ‘Discobolus’, released a child’s sponge hammer to soar to a bronze medal, at her sports day this week.

Both Henri and Myron would have smiled.


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