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I’ve heard it said that photographs select their photographer, and Henri Cartier-Bresson’s  work truly embodies that sentiment. He humbly states that his work is “simple observation”, that “you just have to live and life will give you pictures”, but there is paying watchful attention, and there is a unique intuition that he clearly possessed. His photographs indeed speak to the “decisive moment”, when all the elements lock into place, but he had the talent of marrying instinct with intention, intuition with order. I read that he often looked at his contact sheets upside down to be able to separate his notion of subject from balancing form which is evident in his compositions, visible in the play of shadow and light, and use of framing, stark contrasts, intersecting lines, and geometry. He was able to pluck out hidden qualities (as evidenced in his portraits of Truman Capote and Coco Chanel), and peered deeply and intimately into people. For me, each of his portraits was unified by the dignity he attributed to all of his subjects.

© 2011 Jenny Jope Photography

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