Henri Cartier-Bresson in the Digital Age PDF
Written by Pedro Meyer   



I was watching a video on Youtube, presenting images by Henri Cartier-Bresson, and a running commentary by the acclaimed photographer himself.


In the video, he mentioned two things which I found quite interesting in the context of todays’ digital photography world.


Cartier-Bresson mentioned that he did not consider himself a photojournalist, to which his Magnum colleague, Robert Capa responded, that he should never admit that his images were anywhere close to being surrealist (which was the contention and reference that HCB, said would come closest to his understanding of photography) because that would place him in a niche, and as such he would never get any work. Cartier in that same video, stated that he agreed with Capa, and after that never brought up the subject again. Strangely enough HCB was over time, widely acclaimed all over the world, for being a great documentary photographer, something that most photojournalist would probably agree to, except for him, as he considered documenting something had never been his intention H.Cartier-Bresson, would also state that if the picture was not perfect at the moment it was taken, that fleeting moment would have passed and you simply did not have the craved for image. He would say that many times the difference between a great image and one that was not really that good, was only one of millimeters.


But in todays’ context of photography, such a strict understanding of the notion of time as being part of the creation process of an image, that has been transformed completely. With the potential to modify an image as much before the shutter was pressed, as after it was taken. Makes for the traditional concept of time, as a fleeting moment that has no turning back, to be no longer such an unequivocal truth. Of course the element of time still plays a significant role in our image making process, but no longer can it be seen as being such a single minded truth.


We of course know that any images has the potential of being altered, and as we move along the years in the digital age, it is no longer such an issue of an almost ecclesiastical nature, that photographs can not be altered. On the contrary it is slowly being understood that much as had always been done in the dark room, we can now usher in all sorts of changes through digital means. That what is important, has always been the final image, not the process of getting the result.


We invite you to take a look at www.pedromeyer.com and browse thru Pedro Meyer's complete photographic archive (consisting of +300,000 images) and a very good example of how an image can be re-interpretd in multiple ways.


Comments (4)
  • Daniel Scott  - Documentary & Photojournalist Student
    I simply have to disagree with your statement that "the traditional concept of time, as a fleeting moment that has no turning back, to be no longer such an unequivocal truth." As any master photographer will tell you, a millisecond can be the difference between an iconic masterpiece that will live on through the ages verses, just another photograph to get lost in the never-ending stream of daily exposures. No amount of digital wizardry will bring that missing fraction of life back again. The newer generation of aspiring photographers, are stirring up a world-wide renaissance in film photography, because they are tired of the "photoshopped skepticism" of their work. The negative never lies, and therefore still represents the pinnacle of truth in the captured image.
  • Julio Ortiz  - sobre el proceso
    Maestro Meyer, en cuanto a la importancia de la imagen final, siento que no hay que desconocer que muchos artistas hacen del proceso para obtener la imagen un material en muchas ocasiones más importante que la misma imagen, en la medida que se involucran otros elementos que se encuentran fuera de ese encuadre que nos muestra la imagen fotográfica. Muchas gracias por permitirnos tener acceso a su valioso material. Un saludo, con respeto.

    Julio Ortiz Tarazona
  • Algis Kemezys  - So nice to read your POV
    This is just great and it still holds water today. Almost any image is so critical from the POV to the lighting being off a little is being off a lot..

  • Sandra Moura  - Parabéns
    Parabéns por todo web site e por excelentes matérias de muito bom conteúdo
    e fotos maravilhosas
    Sandra Moura

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