On February 12th 2014, the Pompidou Centre opened the Henri Cartier Bresson Exhibition.

“It is worth the trip to Paris if only to remind oneself how Henri Cartier-Bresson defined photography as the art of observation, and to observe how his images still hold sway over our collective visual understanding of the past century.” The Guardian UK 2014

If you have an appreciation for street photography and/or photo journalism you should  know that Henri Cartier Bresson was the Godfather, across both these two genres.

Here are ten interesting facts about him and some of his great pictures.

1. He was born in France in 1908  and got his first camera before he was ten.

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2. After attending  art school in France he went on to  become a student at Cambridge University where he studied English, Art and Literature

3. He fought in the war.


4. He was a keen painter but after being inspired by a photograph he saw he ditched the brushes and took up the camera full time.

5. Moving amongst influential artists he was interested in exploring surrealism and used this point of view to shape the direction of his photography.

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6.Travelling the world he became acclaimed on a global level spanning each continent. He was, for example, the first Western photographer to take pictures ‘freely’ in post war Russia.

7. In 1952 he wrote the book ‘The Decisive Moment” his term for what evolved to be street-photography and photojournalism. Matisse designed the cover!

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8. He once said “It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head.”


9. He didn’t like his photo being taken.


10. There is a Henri Cartier Bresson Foundation in the 14eme, designed to maintain his legacy. He died aged 95 in 2004.

The Henri Cartier Bresson Exhibition, The Pompidou, Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris

Until June 9th 2014