Talk:Henri Cartier-Bresson

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The quote I added is from an article on the Digital Photography School blog ( - not sure if attributed but felt worthy of inclusion.


Wikiquote no longer allows unsourced quotations, and they are in process of being removed from our pages (see Wikiquote:Limits on quotations); but if you can provide a reliable and precise source for any quote on this list please move it to Henri Cartier-Bresson.

  • Above all, I craved to seize the whole essence, in the confines of one single photograph, of some situation that was in the process of unrolling itself before my eyes.
  • Actually, I'm not all that interested in the subject of photography. Once the picture is in the box, I'm not all that interested in what happens next. Hunters, after all, aren't cooks.
  • In photography, you've got to be quick, quick, quick, quick...Like an animal and a prey.
  • The creative act lasts but a brief moment, a lightning instant of give-and-take, just long enough for you to level the camera and to trap the fleeting prey in your little box.
  • The photograph itself doesn't interest me. I want only to capture a minute part of reality.
  • The most difficult thing for me is a portrait. You have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt.
  • 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 organization of forms which give that event its proper expression. And this organization, this precision, will always escape you, if you do not appreciate what a picture is, if you do not understand that the composition, the logic, the equilibrium of the surfaces and values are the only ways of giving meaning to all that is continuously appearing and vanishing before our very eyes.
  • To photograph is to hold one's breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It's at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.
  • We photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing, and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth can make them come back again. We cannot develop and print a memory.
  • Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.
  • The simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organization of forms which gives that event its proper expression... . In photography, the smallest thing can be a great subject. The little human detail can become a leitmotif
  • Only a fraction of the camera's possibilities interests me - the marvellous mixture of emotion and geometry, together in a single instant
  • The picture is good or not from the moment it was caught in the camera
  • Reality is like a chaotic deluge and, within this reality, one must make choices that bring form and content together in a balanced way.
    • Le Monde, 1974 [issue/date/title/page?]
  • My photos are variations ona single theme, and I circle round the subject like a referee at a boxing match. We [photographers] are passive before a shifting world...
    • L'Express, 1961 [issue/date/title/page?]
  • Only shopkeepers and magazines are seduced by the colour photo.
    • Le Monde, 1974 [issue/date/title/page?]
  • I have never abandoned the Leica. Anything different that I have tried has always brought me back to it...As far as I am concerned it is the camera.
    • Photo France, 1951 [issue/date/title/page?]


  • I spent every moment of my life trying to capture the decisive moment, but every moment of my life was the decisive moment.