As I will show and talk about the works of some of the greatest documentary photographers of time, I guess I might repeat myself when saying how big of a genius they are. But usually it is true, and the french photographer, Henri Cartier Bresson 1908-2004, is maybe one of the best. He was the master of what is called 'the decisive moment'.
He said, We are passive onlookers in a world that moves perpetually. Our only moment of creation is that 1/125 of a second when the shutter clicks, the signal is given, a motion is stopped.....
He was one of the first photographers to use the 35 mm camera and this gave him the freedom of mobility.
'Behind Saint-Lazare Station, Paris, France, 1932'
© Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photo
This picture is one of the most brilliant examples of 'the decisive moment'. Cartier-Bresson captured the inch of a second where this man jumps from the latter over the pond of water.In the background you can see a poster with a figure of a man in the same type of position as the actual man jumping. On the poster in the background you can see the name "Railowsky". This name is a play with words linking the railstation in the background and the latter in the water that looks like a train rail.
This picture is just such a perfect moment captured, it makes it hard to believe it is not staged. But Cartier-Bresson never edited or cropped his images, he wanted the viewer to see the whole picture.
The photograph is also a very important portray of its time, the man jumping and taking a leap being a symbol of taking a chance in the hard time of the 30's.
Picture taken from this flikr site about Cartier-Bresson Some say he was the father of modern photojournalism.
Here is an documentary including interviews with Cartier Bresson made by the interviewer and journalist Charlie Rose
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