Henri Cartier-Bresson was a pioneer in photojournalism covering many famous world events such as the French uprisings and the Spanish Civil War. Born on August 22, 1908 in Chanteloup France, he was born into a family of wealth but also a family of creativity. Cartier-Bresson was educated in Paris he was always attracted to literature and fine arts. By 1927, Cartier-Bresson enrolled in Cambridge University to further expand his love for the arts.
Africa was responsible for showing Cartier-Bresson his true passion. Originally there for a hunting trip, he quickly realized he had little interest in the act of hunting/eating boars and antelopes. So instead he began to take photographs of his journey with a Brownie camera that was gifted to him. “I adore hooting photographs, it’s like being a hunter. But some hunters are vegetarians-which is my relationship to photography,” Cartier-Bresson said. In 1946, after his return from the war Henri organized a “posthumous“show of his work at MOMA and many mistook that the photographer had died in the war.
Cartier-Bresson quickly developed a philosophy for his work. He was a naturalist and had great disdain for the altered image. By the 1930’s, Henri had his work in exhibits all over the world but his skills as a photojournalist would not be solidify until after WWII. He documented Gandhi’s death and the impact Gandhi’s death had on India in 1948 as a photo essay.
In 1947 the photographer and partners George Rodger, Robert Capa, David Seymour and William Vanderbilt founded a premier photo agency called Magnum Photos but Cartier-Bresson was bit again by the travel bug. He embarked on a three year journey through Asia which would gift him with a book collection of his photos “The Decisive Moment”
Cartier-Bresson was witness to the Chinese revolution, Spanish Civil War, World War II, Krushev’s Russia, George VI’s coronation and the glamour of Hollywood with Marilyn Monroe all through the lens of his camera. Without his photo journalistic work, we may not have known about how the world has gotten here today.