Henri Cartier Bresson – Isolation or individualism? – Assignment 1

After reading Henri Cartier-Bresson ‘America Passing ‘and after being properly introduced with his work in an exhibition in Lucca, Italy, I began to seek inspiration from his work for my project on isolation. Through some of his images, like the photograph in New York

Henri1

and the one taken in Washington DC (1957)

Henri2

do show signs of social isolation. The later was a photograph that I had seen before, and alone with the work of Lee Friedlander inspired me to take photographs with two ‘strangers’ walking past each other, obviously linked with my research surrounding modernism. However, after reading ‘America Passing’ in search of more inspiration surrounding composition and any avenues I could go down to diversify my work, I found him to be the opposite of what I wanted for my project. As individual photographs, Cartier-Bresson looks to go into different themes throughout his work, but my observation was that he photographs humanity as a beautiful sign of individualism. Each photograph either negative or positive photographs people as they are, fully candid. It’s as if he’s seen inspiration from the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, of which I agree to disagree with. My project is a challenge to both Cartier-Bresson and Emerson, because I feel that even though the photography in ‘America Passing’ does show individualism, it doesn’t always show people happy. My photography might seem like it’s suggesting people are reliant on other people, but its more about people finding this individualism, and show it to others on the street, smile and make the world happier. This way it reduces the isolation, the current isolation that I’m photographing, and makes people stronger together, like the strong interlinking lines in the background. Like Bresson though, my images are candid and are a moment that might seem bleak, but is trying to be more powerful through connotations.

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