Henri Cartier Bresson

Henri Bresson the French photographer considered to be the father of photojournalism, was the master of candid photography and an early user of 35 mm film. Henri was well know for street photography that features the human condition within public places and does not necessitate the presence of a street or even the urban environment. The subject of the photograph might be absent of people and can be an object or environment where the image projects a decidedly human. As this went on he came up with a term called ‘The Decisive Moment’ that has inspired generations of photographers ever since.

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He became inspired by a 1930 photograph by Hungarian photojournalist Martin Munkacsi showing three naked young african boys, caught in near-silhouette, running into the surf of Lake Tanganyika. The image is titled Three boys at lake Anganyika. The image captured the freedom, grace and spontaneity of the children’s movement and their joy at being alive. After seeing this image, Henri started photographing street photography, capturing moments as they happen in front of him. Henri decided to give up studying art and started to take photography more seriously. He quoted ‘I prowled the streets all day, feeling very strung-up and ready to pounce, ready to ‘trap’ life’.

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Henri Bresson later on met a Hungarian photographer named Endré Friedmann, whose name changed to Robert Capa. The two shared a studio in the 1930s and Robert mentored Cartier from there on. Robert told him‘Don’t keep the label of a surrealist photographer. Be a photojournalist. If not you will fall into mannerism. Keep surrealism in your little heart, my dear. Don’t fidget. Get moving!’. Because of inspirational influences such as Robert Capa, Henri felt compelled to go out into the street to pursue his passion, photographing people as they move around.

In 1952 Henri published his book ‘Images à la sauvette’, who’s english edition is titled ‘The Decisive Moment’. It includes a portfolio of 126 of his photos from the East and the West. As Cartier continued documenting the lives of people he said a famous quote that he lived by as he continued learning from it, he said, “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression”. From this quote we as the audience can understand why the images from his Title ‘The decisive moment’ are so intimate’. The way in which Henri photographed was definitely him being true to the moments he encountered, as the people who influenced him told him ‘Don’t keep labels, be a photo journalist’, which means from a young age he was taught to photograph freely, not to stage moments but to simply capture them.


Website: http://www.biography.com/people/henri-cartier-bresson-9240139 viewed 20/11/14.

Website: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/fb39e1e8-93c8-11e3-a0e1-00144feab7de.html#axzz3JZHUyfUU viewed 20/11/14

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyhMqDfmG9o viewed 20/11/14


Martin Parr

Martin Parr is a British documentary photographer. His photographs contain an intimate and satirical twist to modern life. He particularly documents in social classes and also the wealth of western countries. Some of the well known projects that Martin has produced are, ‘The cost of living’ (1987-1989), ‘Small world’ (1987-1994) and ‘Common sense’ (1995-1999).

Martin has had over 40 books published and has also been featured in around 80 exhibitions in many countries.

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I came across one of these books ‘The last resort’ which I studied and are a series of forty photographs that were taken in New Brighton at a beach suburb of Liverpool. The photos were taken with a medium format camera and with a daylight flash. Martin Parr printed eleven images from ‘The last resort’ in large format edition of five for his 2002 retrospective at the Barbican Art Gallery, London.

The photographs Martin Parr took within this Album were taken between 1983 and 1985. They depict a seaside resort past its prime with attractions designed to appeal to an economically depressed working class society with overcrowded beaches, video arcades, beauty competitions, tea rooms and chip chops. The series was exhibited at the Serpentine Gallery, London and in 1986 was published as a book. By looking through his book I saw how Martin captures any unusual moment, this is something I want to put towards my shoots.

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After publishing these images in 1989, they divided both critics and audiences alike. Some saw it as the finest achievement to date of colour photography in Britain whilst others viewed it as an aberration. With the benefit of hindsight there is little doubt that it transformed documentary photography in Britain and places Martin amongst the world leading photographers. Martin Parr viewed the decaying holiday resort of Brighton and its holiday makers in a way that was new, unique and deeply disturbing. He also did this in colour, something which at the time was seen as revolutionary for documentary work. For some his camera seemed cold and cruel as it followed the working classes desperately pursuing their holiday dreams surrounded by dereliction, decay and wading through the endless detritus of a pollution society. Others felt it showed an affectionate, humorous and humanistic response from Martin himself.


Book: Martin Parr and Ian Walker.Dewi Lewis, revised edition (5 nov 2009).The last resort: Photographs of New Brighton Stockport.

Website: http://www.parisvoice.com/photography/35-martin-parrs-true-colors viewed 27/11/14

Documentary and Intimacy

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Now that i know how to work with a black and white film camera and knowing what my chosen theme is (documentary/intimate), i photographed a few rolls of films. Some as portrait documentary and the other ones showing more intimacy, showing a clear understanding of Nan Goldins work that I’m currently studying. I’m developed the rolls of film, and as i had free time i decided to take some similar photographs of my model with her Nikon so that i could see what the images would look like in colour. By seeing the images in colour i was able to evaluate my work and then make changes to how i was photographing. My model (Lu) had just come from the shower and was lying in her underwear in her room on her bed, she allowed me to photograph this moment. After this she went outside for a smoke in her dressing gown with her underwear still on. I wanted to take this opportunity to experiment shooting with her dressed like this, as Nan golden does this a lot within her work, photographing people in such close proximity whether they have clothes on or not. She removed her gown and just sort of leaned against the wall, we were sort of being true to the moment, as the photograph is still slightly staged. However the image still allows the audience to have their own opinion on it, as it is hard to tell what emotion to feel when looking at the images. My model looks like she is isolated,with someone watching her..turning away from the person that she may be close to as she’s openly in her underwear. This image leaves the audience to decide what to think which makes it interesting. Although Nan Goldins work is more intimate, none staged, these photographs still helped me to progress in my shoots, causing me to relate my work more and more to my chosen artists as i now know where to make changes.

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Chosen Image

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Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin

As I started to look more closely at the work of photographers who focus on intimate and documentary as a topic, I came across Nan Goldin. Her work immediately caught my eye because of the fact that every moment she captures seems honest and realistic. This is because her work doesn’t come across like she’s planned the shoot. Things are all over the place in most of the backgrounds of the images, yet it still visually looks good and how it should, it doesn’t seem altered in a way. I came across a well known sentence Nan Goldin lives by, she says ‘I didn’t care about good photography, I cared about complete honesty.’ Nan Goldin captures intimate moments between families and couples. She spends time following their daily routines and then after taking multiply images, she chooses the most effective one that expresses the feeling of the atmosphere that was within that moment, making sure the audience feels it too. I began to look at her work, as I wanted to get more ideas for my shoots that I want to do based around documentary and intimate as my chosen theme. I studied her book called ‘The devils playground’ which has real explicit intimate images within it, and most certainly makes you feel a certain way when looking at them. This is the same reaction I want the audience to have when looking at my photographs. I want them to react with a gasp, therefore I studied her work within ‘The devils playground’ closely to see the way in which she takes her images to create a certain feel and to get a certain response from the viewer.

French Kiss-Joana & Aurele

The reason I love this photograph is because of the great honesty that is going on, everything is being laid bare. They’re not afraid to show their love for each other, the affection and thrill. This image speaks of so much trust between the two sides of the camera. When I saw this image I decided I want to base my theme around documentary with slight intimate moments like Nan Goldin has done. By Nan Goldin photographing these private intimate moments between couples, shes basically saying ‘Its ok to do these things, its nothing to be ashamed of’, which we all know is true. However some people might disagree and say, that these things should be kept private and not shown around. I went on to research for evidence where Nan Goldin herself talks about she felt about exploiting people’s intimate moments. I came across a video where she speaks about how she was criticized, and how her work was said to be misleading and not true photography.

She however expresses boldly that photography is all about being honest and that’s what she wanted most within her images. I however like the fact that her work is exposing what we as humans would normally hide, this grabs the audiences attention and makes them gasp. Looking at this picture, the light that is shining in on certain areas could also portray two meanings to their relationship. The black could leave the viewer thinking about this image as representing lust, sin, filth, pornography, unfaithfulness or addiction to sex. Where as the light could be representing purity, as if its ok for this to be happening. The light could represent affection, satisfaction, sense of security, warmth, strong love or care. Nan Goldin is leaving the audience to decide for themselves how they want to feel about the image. Things like these make her work more effective as the viewer can connect with her images more.

As I looked more into the work that Nan Goldin does, I came across a video where she talks about another one of her books, what inspired her to take such intimate images and why she does it. Her book ‘The ballad of sexual dependency’ is very much presented in the same style of work as her book ‘The devils playground’ where I came across the images I have been talking about so far.


Two more images of Nan Goldin that made me choose intimate as part of my theme. I just love the idea of people trusting me as the photographer to capture special moments within their private lives. Trust is a beautiful thing and can reveal so much to the world outside when it is allowed.


‘I didn’t care about good photography, I cared about complete honesty.’

Website: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/mar/23/nan-goldin-photographer-wanted-get-high-early-age Viewed- October 19th 2014.

Talk on ‘The Ballad of sexual dependency’.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=2B6nMlajUqU

Viewed- October 19th 2014.

Book with one author: The devils playground, Nan Goldin (2003) London.Publisher:Richard Schlagman.