‘I slipped the camera through [the railings] but I couldn’t see, that’s why it’s a bit blurry… I couldn’t see a thing through the viewer.’ ‘You couldn’t see the man leaping?’ ‘No.’ ‘That was lucky.’ ‘It’s always luck. It’s luck that matters, you have to be receptive, that’s all. Like the relationship between things, it’s a matter of chance, that’s all. If you want it, you get nothing. Just be receptive and it happens.’
(Henri Cartier-Bresson, ‘L’amour tout court’, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6l09YEeEpI)
Quite incredible, isn’t it, that one of the most iconic photographs of the twentieth century was down to luck? Luck, chance, ‘hazard’ – whatever it may be, the influence of Cartier-Bresson has been profound, both in photojournalism through the Magnum agency, which he co-founded, and in street photography generally.
Henri Cartier Bresson (1908-2004) discovered another of the possibilities of 35mm cameras and high-speed film which he described as the ‘decisive moment’: the ‘moment at which the elements in motion are in balance’.