It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera... they are made with the eye, heart and head.

— Henri Cartier-Bresson

The most eye-opening Henri Cartier-Bresson quotes that may be undiscovered and unusual

Sharpness is a bourgeois concept


Photography is a way of shouting, of freeing oneself, not of proving or asserting one's own originality. It's a way of life.


For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity.


Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.


You just have to live and life will give you pictures.


To take photographs means to recognize - simultaneously and within a fraction of a second - both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning. It is putting one's head, one's eye and one's heart on the same axis.


It's seldom you make a great picture.

you have to milk the cow quite a lot to get plenty of milk to make a little cheese.


Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera.


I'm not responsible for my photographs.

Photography is not documentary, but intuition, a poetic experience. It's drowning yourself, dissolving yourself, and then sniff, sniff, sniff - being sensitive to coincidence. You can't go looking for it; you can't want it, or you won't get it. First you must lose your self. Then it happens.


To photograph is to hold one's breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It's at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.


As time passes by and you look at portraits, the people come back to you like a silent echo. A photograph is a vestige of a face, a face in transit. Photography has something to do with death. It's a trace.


Of course it's all luck.


About Henri Cartier-Bresson

Quotes 112 sayings
Nationality French
Profession Photographer
Birthday October 16

Think about the photo before and after, never during.

The secret is to take your time. You mustn't go too fast. The subject must forget about you. Then, however, you must be very quick.


Of all the means of expression, photography is the only one that fixes a precise moment in time.


Photography is not documentary, but intuition, a poetic experience.


To take photographs is putting one's head, one's eye, and one's heart on the same axis


It is the photo that takes you. One must not take photos.


In a portrait, I’m looking for the silence in somebody.


The world is being created every minute, and the world is falling to pieces every minute


Pictures, regardless of how they are created and recreated, are intended to be looked at. This brings to the forefront not the technology of imaging, which of course is important, but rather what we might call the eyenology (seeing).


Memory is very important, the memory of each photo taken, flowing at the same speed as the event.


The simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organization of forms which gives that event its proper expression... In photography, the smallest thing can be a great subject. The little human detail can become a leitmotif.


The difference between a good picture and a mediocre picture is a question of millimeters - small, small differences - but it’s essential. I didn’t think there is such a big difference between photographers. Very little difference. But it is that little difference that counts, maybe


The most difficult thing for me is a portrait.

You have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt.


Photography is like fencing. You must keep your distance, wait, and then thrust.


During the work, you have to be sure that you haven't left any holes, that you've captured everything, because afterwards it will be too late.


Photography is only intuition, a perpetual interrogation - everything except a stage set.


Everyone has got some preconceptions, but you have to readjust them in front of reality. Reality has the last word.


What reinforces the content of a photograph is the sense of rhythm - the relationship between shapes and values.


A photograph is neither taken or seized by force.

It offers itself up. It is the photo that takes you. One must not take photos.


The camera can be a machine gun, a warm kiss, a sketchbook.

Shooting a camera is like saying, Yes, yes, yes. There is no maybe. All the maybes should go in the trash.


I am neither an economist nor a photographer of monuments, and I am not much of a journalist either. What I am trying to do more than anything else is to observe life.


Thinking should be done before and after, not during photographing.


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.


We must avoid however, snapping away, shooting quickly and without thought, overloading ourselves with unnecessary images that clutter our memory and diminish the clarity of the whole.


I suddenly understood that photography can fix eternity in a moment.

It is the only photo that influenced me. There is such intensity in this image, such spontaneity, such joie de vivre, such miraculousness, that even today it still bowls me over.


I believe that, through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us.


Photography is nothing-it's life that interests me.


The photograph itself doesn't interest me. I want only to capture a minute part of reality.


While we're working, we must be conscious of what we're doing.


All I care about these days is painting — photography has never been more than a way into painting, a sort of instant drawing.


There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture.

Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative. Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.


There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment.


Inside movement there is one moment in which the elements are in balance.

Photography must seize the importance of this moment and hold immobile the equilibrium of it.


Culture shock is often felt sharply at the borders between countries, but sometimes it doesn't hit fully until you've been in a place for a long time.


This recognition, in real life, of a rhythm of surfaces, lines, and values is for me the essence of photography; composition should be a constant of preoccupation, being a simultaneous coalition - an organic coordination of visual elements.

3 is seldom indeed that a composition which was poor when the picture was taken can be improved by reshaping it in the dark room.


For the world is movement, and you cannot be stationary in your attitude toward something that is moving.


We photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing, and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth can make them come back again. We cannot develop and print a memory.