During his lifetime, Henri Cartier-Bresson not only wrote the book for concerned photojournalism, he was emminently quotable. Much of what he said decades ago resonates today. Ponder our top ten list of HCB's greatest hits.
10. "To me photography is the simultaneous recognition in a fraction of a second the significance of an event, as well as the precise organization the forms that give that event its proper expression." —The Decisive Moment
9. "One has to tiptoe lightly and steal up to one's quarry; you don't swish the water when you are fishing."
8. "The world is going to pieces and people like Adams and Weston are photographing rocks!" —circa 1930's
7. "What is photojournalism? Occasionally, a very unique photo, in which form is precise and rich enough and content has enough resonance, is sufficient in itself. But that's rarely the case. The elements of a subject that speak to us are often scattered and can't be captured in one photo; we don't have the right to force them together, and to stage them would be cheating...which brings us to the need for photojournalism."
6. "I prowled the streets all day, feeling very strung up and ready to pounce, determined to 'trap' life - to preserve life in the act of living. 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."
5. "I hope that we don't ever see the day when a ready-made photo system, which guarantees good photographic compostions in advance, goes on the market." —American Photo, September/October 1997
4. "As photojournalists, we supply information to a world that is overwhelmed with preoccupations and full of people who need the company of images....We pass judgement on what we see, and this involves an enormous responsibility."—American Photo, September/October 1997
3. "Photography is an immediate reaction, drawing a meditation."
2. "Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst."
1. "Photography is nothing—it's life that interests me."