The Best Henri Cartier Bresson quotes

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Henri Cartier-Bresson was one of the most famous photographers of the 20th century. He is known for his unique photojournalism style which captured everyday life in a spontaneous way. While he started out as a painter, Henri quickly fell in love with photography and never looked back. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at his life and work, and see what made him so successful.

Discover the most interesting Photography, Life, World, Time quotes from Henri Cartier Bresson, and much more.


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About Henri Cartier Bresson

birth of the author

22 August 1908

death of the author

3 August 2004

college of the author

Alma Mater:
Lycée Condorcet, Paris

occupation of the author

Photographer And Painter

award of the author

Grand Prix National De La Photographie In 1981 Hasselblad Award In 1982


Life is once. Forever.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

Photography is nothing–it’s life that interests me.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

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.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

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.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

If there is one point, it’s humanity, it’s life, the richness of life. The thing is simply to be sensitive. — Henri Cartier

You just have to live and life will give you pictures.–Henri Cartier — Bresson


There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

Human faces are such a world!–Henri Cartier — Bresson

I believe that, through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

Some photographs are like a Chekhov short story or a Maupassant story. They’re quick things and there’s a whole world in them. But one is unconscious of it while shooting.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

The adventurer in me felt obliged to testify with a quicker instrument than a brush to the scars of the world.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

For the world is movement, and you cannot be stationary in your attitude toward something that is moving.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

In order to give meaning to the world, one has to feel oneself involved in what he frames. This attitude requires concentration, a discipline of mind, sensitivity, and a sense of geometry.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

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


In photography, you’ve got to be quick, quick, quick, quick…Like an animal and a prey.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

The Photography is a chopper which in the eternity seizes the moment which dazzled it.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

Photography is like fencing. You must keep your distance, wait, and then thrust.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

Photography is not documentary, but intuition, a poetic experience.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

Photography is only intuition, a perpetual interrogation–everything except a stage set.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

Photography is, for me, a spontaneous impulse coming from an ever attentive eye which captures the moment and its eternity.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

I love painting. As far as photography is concerned, I understand nothing.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

In photography, the smallest thing can be a great subject. The little, human detail can become a Leitmotiv.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

I adore shooting photographs. It’s like being a hunter. But some hunters are vegetarians–which is my relationship to photography.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

Photography is a way of shouting, of freeing oneself, not of proving or asserting one’s own originality. It’s a way of life.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

Photography is an immediate reaction, drawing is a meditation.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

Redundant Thematics

In Henri Cartier Bresson Statements


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

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.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

Actually, I’m not all that interested in the subject of photography. Once the picture is in the box, I’m not all that interested in what happens next. Hunters, after all, aren’t cooks.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

Photography appears to be an easy activity; in fact it is a varied and ambiguous process in which the only common denominator among its practitioners is in the instrument.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

Photography has not changed since its origin except in its technical aspects, which for me are not important.–Henri Cartier — Bresson


It is through living that we discover ourselves, at the same time as we discover the world around us.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

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.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

Of all the means of expression, photography is the only one that fixes a precise moment in time.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

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.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

Time runs and flows and only our death succeeds in catching up with it. Photography is a blade which, in eternity, impales the dazzling moment.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

I am a pack of nerves while waiting for the moment, and this feeling grows and grows and grows and then it explodes, it is a physical joy, a dance, space and time united. Yes, yes, yes, yes!–Henri Cartier — Bresson

Inspiring Phrases From Henri Cartier Bresson

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.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

In every photographer there is something of a stroller.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

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.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

The creative act lasts but a brief moment, a lightning instant of give–and–take, just long enough for you to level the camera and to trap the fleeting prey in your little box.–Henri Cartier — Bresson

The picture is good or not from the moment it was caught in the camera.–Henri Cartier — Bresson


Henri Cartier-Bresson is quoted as saying, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” This may be discouraging to some, but it’s important to remember that practice makes perfect. And with digital photography, you can get feedback on your work faster than ever before. Keep shooting and learning and you’ll be surprised at how much your skills improve. We hope these quotes have inspired you to keep practicing and learning in your own photographic journey. For more tips on improving your photography skills, check out our online courses.

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