Henri Cartier-Bresson is one of the world’s most influential photography
Masters. With his small hand camera he unobtrusively photographed people’s lives around the world. He was solely responsible for bridging the gap between photojournalism and art. He has published more than a dozen books of his work. The greatest museums in the world have shown his work.
From my start as a photographer, I was always drawn to taking photographs of people. I feel it was only instinct that made me interested in this type of photography. Other people pushing their ideas on me would come much later. For a few years I made photographs on my own, exploring a whole range of imagery from sports to still life, but I always felt images of people were my strongest. Then I went to college at a very intensive school for photography. From the start I was pushed into the world on Cartier-Bresson and his style. I started concentrating on this documentary style of photography and began to pull away from experimenting in other genres. This was fine with me because I was fairly successful with documentary photography and was being praised be my professors. After a while I became stuck in my ways and found it very hard to shoot in any other manner. At the present my portfolio is based solely on black and white documentary photography. I still am very proud of working in this manner, but I am quite frustrated with finding work as a documentary photographer.
My ties to Cartier-Bresson and his work start from the beginning of my career as a photographer. He was totally responsible for bringing photojournalism into the mainstream art world. Just for this accomplishment alone Cartier-Bresson has made it possible for many documentary photographers to work today.
Cartier-Bresson along with David Seymour and Robert Capa started the cooperative photo agency known as Magnum. Magnum was born because of a struggle between photojournalists and magazines. Magazines were constantly taking advantage of photographers. Magnum was established to end this by having its members band together as a group and establish strict guidelines for magazine payment and usage rights. Magnum represents only its members and its members stand behind one another. Over the years Magnum has evolved into kind of an elite club. I believe it only allows one new member per year; this is done by votes cast by all Magnum members.
One photographer that I have a high regard for is Alex Webb. Webb is a member of Magnum. He works primarily in tropical regions photographing political issues. Currently he is working shooting around the United States/Mexican border documenting the way the border is changing after NAFTA. Webb has worked in the past in Haiti documenting the bloodshed during coup years directly following the exile of Baby Doc Duvalier. I look at this work in Haiti as a direct inspiration to my own work that is concentrated in Haiti. Without Cartier-Bresson and Magnum paving the way, I am unsure of what the fate would be for Alex Webb and many other photographers like him. This is the biggest reason for choosing Cartier-Bresson as the topic for my papers. I feel that he has been a great influence in the shaping of all documentary photographers.