The Var Department

Henri Cartier Bresson – a master of snapshot photography

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(777 Words)

Henri Cartier Bresson’s photos are masterpieces of snapshot photography. On viewing his portfolio, two examples of his work attracted my attention and imagination. The first photo, I viewed, was taken in France of ‘The Var Department, Hyères’ in 1932 and in the other one in Paris of ‘Behind Saint-Lazare’ also taken in 1932.  I will express, in this essay, how these two classic photos show Bresson’s perfect timing to capture life in action that on the surface seems plain in its black and white imagery but what underlies them, I can see, is a master photographer in action.

To begin with ‘Behind Saint-Lazare’ is a stand-out photo for me, one that is multi-dimensional. I only had to observe the symmetry of the reflections of the gentleman, the railings, and the building in the water to observe an angelic feature to the obvious bleakness of the photo. The wrought fencing, the station building, the workmen, and the debris portray a world of industry.

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