Famous Photographers Tell How: Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson needs no introduction to anyone even remotely interested in photography. He is the photographers photographer and has been called the greatest photographer of the twentieth century, although HCB would call bull shit on the greatest photographer accolade. When HCB talks about photography photographers listen and listen you should to HCBs wise words.

This interview with Henri Cartier-Bresson has been taken from the 1958 Famous Photographers Tell How LP.


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One thing that I have learned…

“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

Quality comes from quantity.

Wether or not this is true for anyone else is debatable. I know my first 10,000 photos were undoubtedly my worst, they were terrible and utterly forgettable. The point is that it takes a lot of practice to become any good at photography and The only way to get good is to make photos… lots of photos.



RIP Leonard Nimoy


Terribly sad news about Leonard Nimoy. I had no idea he was an accomplished photographer. I recommend watching the whole interview (but I’m biased because I love Star Trek and Leonard Nimoy) but if you just want the photography part then skip forward to 11:21 but you are a fool if you do.


Photographers make photos

A painter starts with a blank canvas and paints a scene with their brushes and paints. An author starts out with a blank page and writes a scene with their pen and paper or computer. A photographer starts out with a complete scene, the photographer’s job is to put a frame around that scene and make a photo with the camera to give a sense of order and meaning to what they see. Or do photographers simply just take a photo of what they see?

‘You don’t take a photograph, you make it.’
– Ansel Adams

Is there a difference between ‘taking’ and ‘making’ a photo? Indeed there is. I have thought a lot about taking photos and making photos, this is my conclusion.


Dangerous ideas

I love the internet, I also hate the internet, it’s as wonderful as it is terrible. The best thing about the internet, that it is open and democratic, is also the worst thing about the internet.

Sometimes I loath the openness and democracy of the internet because it allows any one to publish anything, the only requirement is a PC with an internet connection. The low barrier for entry means that some really awful things are born on the internet. There are also some truly great web sites, tools and information available on the internet. Even with all of the terrible web sites with their click bait and trollish comments the internet is still a wonderful place.

The problem with most photography web sites, at least the ones I have come across, is that they are poorly designed (and I use the word designed very loosely, designed is a strong word for some web sites), they are full of click bait articles that are poorly written, and trollish comments. What’s even worse than bad design, poor prose, and trollish comments, is that a lot of photography web sites peddle the message that gear and Photoshop will make you a better photographer. The idea that gear and Photoshop can make you a good photographer is a dangerous idea.

Lets get one thing straight, gear and Photoshop will most definitely not make you a better photographer.